Album Review: The Presets - Pacifica (2012 LP)

Without a doubt, The Presets were one of, if not the moment of Sydney's Sound Relief. It was raining – pouring in fact - and not one attendee cared a bit, no matter their age or musical persuasion. There was something special in the air, something that broke all those boundaries. As they blasted out their hits from "My People" to "This Boy’s in Love", people jumped, danced and rocked out potentially harder than they had with Jet or Eskimo Joe, and walked away soaked, exhausted and with grins from ear to ear. One might say this was the point the The Presets' universal popularity became something inarguable.

Naturally, the third album from the electronica duo was promised to be somewhat of a defining album (as third albums usually are). In this, they have delivered – but probably not in the way that you would typically think. In fact, it seems as if the chunky, catchy bass rhythms and drum rolls, coupled with lyrics that could be sung from the top of the club-goer’s lungs have all been replaced with something rather experimental.

A lot of dance music seems to be heading in this direction these days – seemingly far more 80’s influenced, spacey and ambient synth lines coupled with repetitive to the point of being rhythmically assistive lyrics and melodies, and simple 4 on 4 drums.

The feel of the album is still very Presets, but is certainly seems the duo have developed and grown in their musical styling rather quickly and seriously. The stabby synths are still there, but instead of the bass taking the lead (think "This Boy’s in Love") now we have a moderate synth taking the lead (example: "Fall"). I’m glad the melody and the singing style haven’t really changed, despite the annunciation changing slightly to fit with the newer, more edgy feel of the album.

Some of the more stand out tracks on the album were the afore mentioned "Fall", "It’s Cool", "Surrender", "Youth in Trouble" and "Fail Epic"; each giving their own hand at the new style and even a couple with plenty of good club remixes no doubt waiting in the wings.

Now, dear reader, you have to bear in mind that this album is not a dance album by any stretch of the imagination. If anything, I’d liken it to some of the lesser known dance artists from Sydney such as No Moon or ellisD, and some from overseas such as Teeeel. It’s very ambient, progressive almost, and indeed bordering on deeptrance more than electronic.

So how do you rate such an album that is so radically different from the rest? Well all you can say is this. Is it a Presets album? Yes. Is it as we know them? No. Does this make it a bad album? By no means at all.

The album itself is as solid as an inch-thick steel wall. It’s thematically sound, and the new style I gotta admit – I really dig. It’s so radically different from everything else out there in the public sphere that it really deserves a good go, and for people to sit down and listen to it in whole before judging it. It’s certainly not a singles album, but that just makes you want to put it on repeat and listen over and over again.

Overall, Pacifica is a work of art for a duo who have made a name off single style-writing. It’s brave, it’s new, and it’s certainly something completely different from the norm - and it's this reason that it's the best Presets album to date.

And yes, I’d still stand in a torrential downpour to hear it.

Summary: Left of field is the best side of field, as the boys have proven here. If you like ambient, cultural music you’ll love it. If you like The Old Presents, take a listen just so you can know how the group has progressed.

Review Score: 9.0 out of 10