Why you haven’t heard it:
Brooding electropop outfit the Presets have been carving out a place as one of Australia’s most beloved acts for over a decade now, but North America has so far been unchartered territory for them. In the duo’s homeland, their 2008 album Apocalypso was showered with Album of the Year awards and towelled off gingerly by critics across the country, but they’ve gained little traction elsewhere.
Why it might be tough to get through:
Apocalypso is eccentric, and not in the cute, quirky way indie music often is. We’re not dealing with whimsy here—instead, it is more of a sensual ambiguity, filled with heavy and aggressive sounds that can leave you seeing stars.
The tracks also lack much of the instant gratification that many people have become accustomed to after years of listening to radio-friendly EDM tracks. They take a bit longer to reveal their intentions, tensely slow-burning their way to climax—but it’s well worth the wait.
Why you should listen to it anyways:
Behind the massive synths and manic stage presence are two classically trained perfectionists, graduates of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music who have slaved over every last detail of this album. This is clear in their carefully crafted songs, full of sweltering melodies and peppered with vocalist Julian Hamilton’s cheeky baritone.
Apocalypso also went platinum and was what brought the Presets to a wider mainstream audience, making it a good place to start before delving into their lesser-known albums. The album offers upbeat tracks like “My People” and “Talk Like That,” as well as slower, more emotion-filled ones like “If I Know You,” rounding it out and giving listeners a taste of the different capabilities of the duo.
The Presets are well-loved allies of the LGBTQ+ community for their gender-neutral lyrics and homoerotic videos. They had their early breaks in gay clubs, and often still play major gay pride events.
The majority of the Presets’ lyrics are ostensibly apolitical. However, that hasn’t stopped them from being outspoken online, in interviews, and occasionally in their music. The aforementioned platinum track “My People” was written as an anthemic appeal to the mistreatment of asylum seekers in Australia, and has since seen popularity as a rallying cry for marginalized groups.
Best lines and songs:
“This Boy’s in Love” is filled with emotion and a heavy beat, giving you a sample of the versatile talents of the group.
“Cos I was the one, that you found/And if I know you, you’ll find me someplace new/I hope you never, I hope you never get to” from “If I Know You”.