Imagine putting The Killers, Ke$ha, Eminem, and Blur into a blender and hitting the “on” button. You might be surprised to find out that this combination makes a pretty damn good smoothie. The name of this new drink is Begin Again. It is the latest record by British electro-punk rockers KLOQ, marking it as the band’s second release and the first full length album with its current line-up. On paper this band should sound awful. They utilize a mixture of indie rock, hip-hop, funk and electronic dance beats that are more reminiscent of early Sci-Fi films like Logan’s Run rather than modern EDM. But all of the Euro-pop and ’80s jam nostalgia pays off quite well in the end.
Some of the best tracks on Begin Again are the ones I had to listen to multiple times and look at on several levels to truly appreciate. “High” is one of the more pop/radio friendly songs that just makes me want to get up and dance. With some really jazzy guitar riffs, it feels a bit more sophisticated for its title as well as being more complex than the preceding songs. On the exact opposite of the spectrum, however, there is the much harsher hip-hop, raptronic “Crash.” I really dig this song because it’s very abrupt and completely changes the entire vibe of the album. Unfortunately, this change of tune becomes problematic for the majority of the songs that directly follow it making them seem significantly weaker than if they were to be played on their own.
“Zero 1” and “Bleed” are easily my two favorite songs off Begin Again because of their highlights on certain instruments. The emphasis on the high-hats in “Bleed” makes the drummer in me jump for joy, whereas the funky bass riffs on “Zero 1” paralleled to its robotic/surf band style really holds up nicely for a band that haphazardly came together from all different backgrounds.
I have to say the coolest part about this album is that even the weakest songs have something pretty big to offer the listener. Tracks like the ode-to-hip-hop “Jenny,” which reminds me of Eminem during his hand-puppet days, becomes almost humorously enjoyable. I found myself looking forward to this song as I went through the album again and again just because it’s that annoyingly ridiculous. On the other side of things, the more serious track “Step Up,” while kind of boring, does hold my favorite line on the album. When vocalist Dean Goodwin sings the line “You’re just something I’ve grown into,” it really makes up for the lyrical level of “Jenny,” which opens with “When you do that dance/you in them sexy pants.”
Overall this is a real feel-good record that shows how founder Oz Morsley has matured musically since KLOQ’s first release. Incorporating a full-band line-up was a real game changer and I’m thoroughly happy with Begin Again as a whole on everything from engineering, to musicianship, to originality. This is just a really fun album to jam out to, and I have a feeling a lot of people will end up having a dance party of one in their bedrooms when they first hear it. I definitely did.
(Natasha Van Duser)