“You know just once I’d like someone to say to me before an interview, ‘hey, I’ve listened to your new album and I’ve got to say, I fucking hate it!’”

Oh dear, I’ve not even asked Kim Moyes – one half of the hugely successful Australian dance music duo The Presets – my first question and I already feel like a complete and utter fan boy.

All I had done up to this point was say how much I had been enjoying the group’s latest musical offering, Pacifica, which dropped towards the end of last year.

He laughs and then continues, “I mean, obviously, if someone did say that to me I’d be absolutely devastated, but it’d definitely be more interesting, you know?”

Then, realising that he has stung my feelings, he says kindly, “I’m really glad that you like it, man. That means a lot.”

And hey, maybe it doesn’t mean anything to him, but then again maybe it means the world. Kim Moyes does a lot of interviews, and this is just his way of staying sane. He’s just yanking my chain.

I know this because he does it again when our chat turns to why it took Pacifica the best part of five years to be released after 2008’s hugely successful Apocalypso, whose mammoth singles dominated that year’s best-of lists, party anthems and DJ sets for what seemed like an endless summer.I was 18 going on 19, and it was a blissful time. 

“In terms of its sonic palette, Pacifica is probably your most intricate effort yet,” I say, trying to sound really knowledgeable and full of journalistic integrity. “Is that perhaps why it took so long to come out, after Apocalypso?” 

Again, I am taken a bit aback when my question is met with fits of laughter.

“Oh, that’s funny, man! I’ve just got this image in my head of you sitting there on the floor next to the mail slot waiting for the album to drop into your lap with a little tear running down your cheek,” he laughs. “It didn’t take that long to come out did it?”

While it might not have seemed like a particularly long time for either Moyes or The Presets’ other member Julian Hamilton, the four year gap between albums has been compounded by an almost three year wait between live performances on Australian soil.

Their sudden disappearance came as a bit of a shock to an Australian musical landscape that had been so heavily saturated in The Presets’ music.

For years the group had been all but unavoidable due to their string of gargantuan hits. 

“Songs like those [My People, Talk Like That and even Are You the One? from their 2006 debut Beams] probably got overplayed by, not just the radio stations, but by everyone.

“You’d hear them on advertisements, in cars driving past, in department stores, everywhere really until people just couldn’t get away and by then it had become too much! People just needed a break.”

Moyes – unlike other jaded musicians – doesn’t resent the more successful of his creations, saying that he and Hamilton are “very grateful to those songs. We certainly can’t complain about them.”

The fact of the matter is that, in Australia anyway, Apocolypso was ridiculously successful: triple platinum sales, numerous ARIA awards including Album of the Year, five hit singles, sold-out headline shows at some of the biggest festivals and venues in the country. In other words: full-blown super-stardom and all that jazz.

I suppose then that Kim and Julian could be forgiven their tardiness in putting out a follow-up to such an enormously successful record, considering the huge weight of pressure they must have been under making it?

“It wasn’t that so much, we just kind of wanted the dust to settle a bit after the last record, get a clear playing field with the new one.” 

Of course, wrong again… What would I know anyway?

“We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel on this album, it has still got a lot of the same sort of themes that we had in Apocalypso. We are, after all, still trying to make music people can dance to.” 

Yes they are, and they’ve done an excellent job with Pacifica. Songs on the album like It’s Cool, Push and the euphoric single Promises are just three of the more fist-pump inducing examples I’ve picked at random off an album of extremely catchy dance tunes.

Yet, the thing I found most interesting about this album is that while they have certainly carried through some of Apocalypso’s themes, they’ve utilised them more artfully on this new album.

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Pacifica is an album that sounds like it has been thoughtfully arranged and composed by classically trained musicians (which Moyes and Hamilton are) as opposed to something that’s been cobbled together by a couple of electro-heads with the soul intention of getting the front couple of rows at a festival sweaty.

This is a collection of songs that seem to have started life as chords on a grand piano – not sequences on a computer. 

Youth in Trouble – the album’s opener – on first listen seems to be just a solid wall of noise, but after a few spins it reveals itself to be a consummately constructed build, where every synthesizer arpeggio and drum machine rim shot is painstakingly and architecturally layered upon. This is less of a song and more of an oil painting.

While the epic slow burner A.O. goes the other way, peeling away the beautiful veneer of its subject to reveal the seedier side of Sydney: the drugs, the violence and the poverty. For Moyes the song is as much a wake up call to its citizens as it is a love song about his home town.

“We love Sydney, we grew up here and we will probably always live here, but a lot of bullshit gets said about the place that isn’t true. Yet the people who live here go along with it, for whatever reason.” The spiky synthesizers and the simian chanting on the refrain sound as exciting and unsettling as anything The Presets have ever done. 

There’s also a sea shanty on the album (Ghosts), a few piano ballads, and what seems to be a good deal more live instrumentation, particularly in the percussion.

The content of Hamilton’s lyrics seem also to have improved; he appears to be using his words to convey actual poetic meaning this time around, as opposed to just wanting them to sound good as they’re shouted back at him from the dance floor.

It’s a bit of a shame then that Pacifica won’t ever be as commercially successful as its predecessor, which has prompted some cretins to label it a bad album, even a failure.

However, I’m of the opinion that if improving the way you structure your songs, cutting down on the 80s throwback cheesiness, and generally making a better album than your previous two is ‘a failure’ then what’s the point in succeeding anyway?

Besides, it seems that the target audience are still into it.

“We played Parklife in September and it was great to see that so many people were still interested in coming out to see us after a few years away,” says Moyes.

The duo headlined the 2012 festival and received positive reactions to the new album material. “Yeah, the crowd seemed to like it, which is always good!” 

The Presets are touring Australia in February with their new material for the first time since 2009 and I, for one, will be there with bells on. I like to think that’s what Kim Moyes would want.

Or not. I can’t really tell with that guy anymore.


Catch The Presets in Fremantle (Jan 31), Adelaide (Feb 5), Melbourne (Feb 6 & 7) Sydney (Feb 11 & 12) and Brisbane (Feb 16). 


Photos: Beau Grealy, Getty Images