Kim Moyes and Julian Hamilton’ latest project splits audiences. When demo CDs began circulating a year or two ago, their previous group Prop’ fans concluded the duo compromised themselves for the dollar. That’s partly because the Presets embraced house music – an unforgivable crime in most parts of Sydney’ electronic and indie underground – but also because the new outfit jumped aboard the latest the bands/electropop trend too.
Although the duo met studying classical music at university, they bonded over Joy Division and the Velvets. It’s that influence that sustains them, as much as they might try to decry their musical history with off-handed remarks about Presets being about “partying and drugs and girls’ compared to Prop’ “concerned and learned sensitive music’.
Still, although a far cry from Prop’ emotional bliss, the Presets are further still from vapid contemporaries like the Rapture, the Bravery and Cut Copy. With Scott Horscroft on hand to mix the record, they shaped their debut into a dark noisy thing. For better or worse, this is a very deliberate album. Hamilton’ distorted vocals hint at John Lydon and Jello Biafra (though never as lyrically incisive as either), while heavy drum rhythms (both programmed and live) swing between rumbling bass tones and sleazy synth lines. Beams won’ revolutionise the line between dance and rock – far from it – but, for all the criticisms, it is killer pop music.