Album Review: The Chemical Brothers – Further

By on Friday, 16th July 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

When I think of the Chemical Brothers, I smile in remembrance of 1996’s ground-breaking ‘Setting Sun’ and 1999’s ‘Hey Girl, Hey Boy’. But since the time of the Chems’ sixth album ‘We are the Night’ in 2007, electronic has morphed into all sorts of slightly different styles. Now there are so many bands that call themselves partways electronica.

So where does this leave the Chems in 2010 with their new album, ‘Further’? By now I’m sure you have heard the lead single, ‘Swoon’, a promising one to begin, swirliness with mad beats. But what about the rest of the album? While it’s not what the doctor ordered for a rave party, the effort demonstrates a sense of maturity from Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, even if it doesn’t lead the album down the road to mainstream popularity.

The blips that begin and amble through first track ‘Snow’ are nothing new. New York’s Depreciation Guild utilizes video game consoles in live performance to achieve the same kind of blippiness effect. ‘Snow’ oozes its way into ‘Escape Velocity’, starting up remarkably similar to the trippy, ambient ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’ by the Orb but thankfully the track goes on and definitely goes up a notch. I kind of imagine this is the sort of thing Lance Armstrong should have on his iPod to psych himself up as he scales the mountains in the Tour de France. You can listen to ‘Escape Velocity’ below (just audio, no video).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GqRsmffeVI

‘Another World’ is no match for ‘Swoon’, but it’s not half bad either. But my vote for best track on here is ‘Dissolve’: this one features a ’60s Beatles psychedelic vibe (remember the instrumental ‘Flying’ from the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ album?) This one could jockey for position on DJ playlists. Mysteriously, ‘Dissolve’ ends with tropical beats before segueing into ‘Horse Power’, a track that features horses neighing – what else? – and intricate synth layers. The album version of ‘Swoon’ is more majestic and certainly worth a listen, though you’d be remiss to think the whole of ‘Further’ sounds like ‘Swoon’ clones. The jungle rhythms are back for ‘K+D+B’, seemingly taking a page out of the sunny surf pop sounds of singles by the Drums and Surfer Blood. Not really what I expect from the Chems. Neither is ‘Wonders of the Deep’, which like many of the numbers on ‘Further’ sound like they could soundtrack films or even nature documentaries.

The verdict? ‘Further’ has plenty of variety, as the Chemical Brothers have not been afraid to stray from club beats, experimenting with more mellow and broader sounds rather than those sharper and more immediate. Perhaps this is a show of their maturity? But if you’re looking for a record that’s chockful of earworms that will get you hopping and on the dance floor, this may not be the one for you. But if you’re adventurous and do decide to give it try, it will definitely make you think.

7/10

(Editor’s note: Sorry that I’m a bit late on this one – ‘Further’ has been out since mid-June in the UK. But literally minutes before I left the house and headed to the airport to fly out to Denmark for Roskilde last month, the postman delivered my review copy. Apologies.)

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