Midnight Juggernauts Midnight JuggernautsThe Crystal Axis
The Midnight Juggernauts gave us all a big surprise. If we look back three years, we can remember how easily the Australian group jumped on the bandwagon of danceable pop music, with a bit of a French touch, thanks to a debut album that was pure dynamite. With the conceptual alibi of the cosmic, songs like “Into the Galaxy” or “Road to Recovery” showed us that on their continent, nobody needed the backing of labels like Ed Banger to turn that indietronic scene (which was both sucking the tit of space disco and dealing with the hangover of fluorine rave that was so much fun for American Apparel customers) upside down. As was to be expected, Justice and SebastiAn threw themselves at the feet of Midnight Juggernauts until Cut Copy and The Presets took over from them and rose up as the new poster groups for dance floors with a whiff of eucalyptus floating in the air—for the koalas, of course. Now it seems that the Melbourne trio, reluctant to lay anchor and repeat the formula that made brought success, wanted to develop their identity another step further with “The Crystal Axis”.
There’s no trace of dance music or any rush to hold on to with your mouth hanging open. This has screwed me over, especially taking into account how I wore out their debut on my iPod and it came to be one of those little jewels that you turn on when you don’t want to think too much. “The Crystal Axis” twists between a Spector-like wall of sound, progressive rock –more explicit than in their previous work, which is saying something– and just the right amount of psychedelics that this kind of group can claim. They must have been studying the discography of Pink Floyd again from beginning to end to come up with such a mystical album. They want us to take them seriously, and in part, they manage to achieve this. This is why the focus on the band’s leader and vocalist, Vincent Vendetta, can be seen to be on the rise without needing to resort to vocoders to bring out the Bowie that he has deep down inside.
If Roxy Music would decide once and for all to get into the studio, they might be able to go off on a tangent with something similar to “Lifeblood Flow”. But if there’s a piece that shines with its own light -apart from the single “Vital Signs”, which has obviously delighted NME- it’s “Lara Versus the Savage Pack”, with that dirty bass that makes us miss the raw sex of hippy communes, and which owes so much to the psychedelic mind trips of Wayne Coyne or retro lovers like The Heavy. Leaving aside the bastard electronic music for the time being, the lines of synthesisers and electric organs—they wanted to do their own “Space Oddity” and it turned out like “Dynasty”– continue to form a part of their genome. Although the album isn’t brilliant —which doesn’t mean that it is the most amenable either— it manages to hold all of our attention with songs like “Fade to Red” which is thoroughly dreamy and intoxicating (Vendetta doesn’t sing here, he levitates two feet above the ground), that it’s impossible to hit the repeat button compulsively. Having said all of this, I still miss those Midnight Juggernauts that turned my living room into a discotheque. As recently happened to MGMT, they’ve said good-bye to the hedonism of the neon lights. But even so, the Australians show us that they can metamorphose without losing a whit of their power.
Sergio del Amo