Album Review: The Presets – Hi Viz (2018 LP)

As I write this, the thudding beats of “Until The Dark” – the album closer for The Presets‘ new record Hi Viz – are still ringing out in my head. Over the course of almost seven minutes, Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes explore heavy, pulsating electronic territory that pulls each thread of the album together flawlessly.

Of course, there was much riding on the release of this album; the first release from the Sydney duo since Pacifica in 2013, Hi Viz had been long teased as a monumental return from The Presets, the act who for so long, had dominated the Australian electro scene and pioneered the wave of artists from the underground making their way through the mainstream. The question positioned was a loaded one: would Hi Viz stand up to the seminal Apocalypso?

The answer, I think, is a resounding yes.

Opener “Knuckles” throws the gauntlet down immediately. If you were expecting the loftier, gentler sounds of Pacifica, exit left. Swiftly. The Presets aren’t fucking around here. The arrangement sounds a bit like a video game soundtrack but in its glitches, “Knuckles” paves the way excellently for popular single “Do What You Want”.

“Beethoven” has a bit of Apocalypso‘s “Together” in the landing of the vocals, while the beats cut so sharply, you can imagine what this is going to be like in a live setting – that build is everything: sinister, enticing, giving way to something gleefully hypnotic as it enters its third minute.

Featuring collaborations with Alison Wonderland (“Out of Your Mind”) and DMA’s (“Are You Here?”), The Presets flex their muscles successfully in bringing two distinctly different artists acclaimed in their own right, into this kaleidoscopic playground of sounds distinctly their own. Listen to “Downtown Shutdown” for one of the most vibrant moments on the record, while tracks like “Feel Alone” will whisk you up in some classic Presets-hooks with ease.

If you’ve been a long time fan of The Presets, Hi Viz won’t be treading unfamiliar territory, though it’s exciting to comprehend what this album will mean for new fans, or those music listeners who may have just been casual listeners before. I was too young to appreciate Beams when it first came out but I have a strong memory of listening to “Kicking and Screaming” for the first time when I bought Apocalypso on CD back in 2008. That record opened part of my mind I’d previously shut off to electro music, much less electro music made in Australia, and it still remains one of my favourite albums to date.

Hi Viz is a defining point for The Presets; they’ve made their return in a climate flushed with young producers climbing their way to the top but make no mistake, they’ve dropped a great How To Do It Right record with this, their fourth studio effort.

Bravo.

Review Score: FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS.

Hi Viz is out now via Modular/EMI.