Woefully underappreciated Stateside, Australia’s The Presets are, in my humble opinion, one of the best things to happen to modern music. Their debut album, Beams, was solid, ARIA-certified gold; their follow-up album, the dark-yet-insanely-catchy Apocalypso, was nothing short of phenomenal; and their festival-closing set in the Mojave Tent at Coachella 2011 was unequivocally the best live set I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life to date. That’s right. I skipped Kanye West to see The Presets, and I don’t have a single damn regret.

This is what not having a single damn regret looks like.

The third and newest release from The Presets, Pacifica comes four years after its predecessor, Apocalypso, which just so happens to be one of my favorite albums of all time. Consequently, my expectations for this release were higher than the population of California on April 20th. Given such lofty expectations, it’s not necessarily surprising that my initial impression of Pacifica was not what I would classify as overwhelmingly positive. The album, a far departure from the sublimely moody sound the duo established on Beams and then perfected on Apocalypso, was initially jarring for me to hear. Several spins later, however, I was able to recover from my initial shock and approach the album as a standalone work instead of a continuation of The Presets’ previous releases.

With my perspective renewed, Pacifica grew on me. Yes, it contrasts sharply from what I’m accustomed to from the group, but I can appreciate it for pushing the experimental envelope. The opening track and first single, “Youth In Trouble,” is tantalizingly drawn out and deftly layered; I anticipate it will translate very well when performed live. “Ghosts” possesses instrumentation that would be considered minimal by The Presets’ standards, but the track has an achingly ethereal quality that had me listening to it over and over again. I naturally gravitated to “Fast Seconds” — with its ominous, driving beat, it’s most reminiscent of the dark and gritty tracks I know and love from Apocalypso.

If Beams is the rambunctious freshman searching for his identity in the rat race of high school and Apocalypso is the achingly cool and confident sophomore that everyone adores, Pacifica is the junior who had an existential breakthrough over the summer and came back to class completely reinvented. This fictional upperclassman might be a bit more eccentric and he might even alienate some of his old friends, but he’s branching out and evolving, and it’s hard not to appreciate how far he’s come thus far. I, for one, can’t wait to see what The Presets put out next.

Pacifica will be released on September 7th. Be sure to catch The Presets on one of their North American tour stops this fall, including a performance at Club Nokia on October 27 (tickets are available now).

The Presets Tour Dates:

10/13 – San Francisco, CA @ Treasure Island Music Festival
10/15 – Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
10/19 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
10/20 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues
10/21 – Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre
10/23 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
10/25 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
10/27 – Los Angeles, CA @ Club Nokia
10/28 – Pomona, CA @ The Fox Theatre

For more info:

The Presets website