Australian electronic duo The Presets deliver one clear message on their aptly-titled latest album, “Apocalypso” — It may be doomsday, but at least people are dancing.
The sophomore effort from Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes, released earlier this year, was partially recorded in Berlin and has a distinctly Euro feel, with a dark, Depeche Mode-inspired sound. It’s chock-full of dancefloor anthems like lead single “My People” and the even catchier “This Boy’s In Love” but also offers a sampling of mood music with the trance-y instrumental “Aeons.”
The duo met at the Sydney Conservatory in the mid-“Ëœ90s and formed a band called Prop, a multi-person outfit which tended toward “instrumental, soundcheck-y” material, according to Moyes. Eventually, they abandoned the group, adopted a minimalist approach, and formed The Presets as a pair in 2002, with Hamilton handling lyrical duties, Moyes on drums, and both contributing on keyboards and programming.
“The Presets was almost a complete reaction to what we were doing before, in every way” Moyes explained in a recent interview. “We wanted to make music that was really immediate and fun and dumb.”
After landing a record deal and releasing a series of EPs in 2003 and 2004, their first full-length album, “Beams” hit shelves in 2005 and the twosome subsequently spent more than two years touring in support of it.
The Presets achieved superstar status in their native Australia while serving as the opening act for Daft Punk’s farewell arena tour in 2007. “Apocalypso” debuted at #1 in their homeland and went gold in less than a week, propelled by the pulsing “My People.”
Moyes and Hamilton cite as influences the Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, and Daft Punk, but say they’re trying to cultivate a unique identity among a new wave of Aussie acts that are combining pop, dance and electronic influences.
“We don’t really consider ourselves as dance music; we consider ourselves pop” Moyes said. “(But) we’ve always found that we’ve been able to get the crowd dancing. You can’t come to our show and just sort of sit there and watch.”
This fall, the duo brought their sound to America supporting fellow Aussie electropoppers Cut Copy and found, among other things, tamer audiences than they were accustomed to, Moyes said.
“Australians yell” he explained. “Americans actually talk to you like you’re a human being.”
Although the songs on “Beams” (which Hamilton describes as “one big hedonistic party”) tended to deal with more frivolous subject matters, Hamilton believes his maturation as a lyricist is evident on “Apocalypso.”
“I’d be bored writing songs about partying and girls” he said.
While the songs on “Apocalypso” aren’t overtly political, fans stateside might feel drawn to The Presets for reasons other than the music’s danceability, according to Hamilton.
Australia was in the midst of a political transition when many of the tracks on “Apocalypso” were written, he noted, with the left-leaning Labor Party winning the 2007 election and seizing power from the more conservative incumbent leadership.
“I feel like America is in a sort of similar situation” he said. “There’s always some idiot government somewhere in the world.”