Surrender it for the Chemical Brothers. Genres and trends come and go, celebration divine beings rise and fall. However Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons remain unceasingly consistent with their block rocking vision. The pair has now outlived two moronically named promoting contrivances intended to offer dance music to normals: electronica (which they kind of developed in the Nineties) and EDM (which they’ve outstandingly disregarded all through the most recent decade). Their last collection, 2016’s Born in the Echoes, stayed with a formula that is worked for them for 25 years: dancefloor bangers in addition to psychedelia in addition to enormous name appearances (for this situation Q-Tip, Beck and St. Vincent’s Annie Clark). Their ninth LP gets out the visitor stars to go in a ravier, heavier direction, while additionally recommending a stock-taking introspect and anxiety deserving of their august status and our unsafe occasions.
Titles like “Eve of Destruction” and “Mad As Hell” underscore a mindfulness on their part that peace, love, unity and respect are hard to come by in the Trump/Brexit time. However, the collection’s vibe and sound is versatilely explosive, particularly on the three-song mini mega-mix of sorts that kicks things off, a major beat suite following a narrative arc from apocalypse (“Eve of Destruction”) to disobedience (“Bango,” which contains the vocal hook “I won’t back down / Give me my thunder”) to wide-open borderless guarantee (the bell-ringing rouser “No Geography”).
The remainder of the collection feels somewhat more spur of the moment, never entirely being of a piece a la their euphoric 2010 return-to-form Further, or offering extraordinarily significant high-points a la Born in the Echoes’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”-tinged face-melter “I’ll See You There.” While recording No Geography, the duo broke out the same gear they used to create Nineties classics Exit Planet Dust and Dig Your Own Hole, but tracks like the classic acid throwdown “Free Yourself” and the Seventies soul-sampling electro-squelch-fest “We’ve Got To Try,” while synapse-nuking fun, echo past greatness without feeling revelatory in their own right. The album ends with the setting-sun distress and golden dissonance of “Catch Me I’m Falling,” a ballad about loss demonstrating that even when they’re merely taking care of business, they can capture a classic pop emotion better than pretty much all of their peers of followers. Here’s to 25 years of chasing the next one.
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