NBHAP Rating: 4/5
[one_half last=”yes”]THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS
Born In The Echoes
01. Sometimes I Feel So Deserted
02. Go (featuring Q-Tip)
03. Under Neon Lights (featuring St. Vincent)
04. EML Ritual (featuring Ali Love)
05. I’ll See You There
06. Just Bang
08. Taste Of Honey
09. Born In The Echoes (featuring Cate Le Bon)
11. Wide Open (featuring Beck)
THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS have reached that tricky stage where they often seem more like an institution than a band. Mentioning them will instantly bring up memories of their hyper-famous big hits (Hey Boy Hey Girl is an utter monster, often seeming to be even more well-known than the band themselves) or their historically monumental live shows, to the extent when it overshadows the band as an active concern. With this kind of career behind them, the challenge is to make a new album that will attract listeners to it and stop them from simply skipping to their overwhelmingly impressive back catalogue. It’s time to see if they have achieved this with their eighth outing, Born in the Echoes.
In fact, it’s ironic that despite their being firmly lodged in the public consciousness as providers of bangers, Born in the Echoes seems them largely avoid that route to focus on deliberately disjointed and more exploratory moods. That’s not to say that there are no dance anthems on this, because there are (Go is dripping in funk and bounce), but that generally the album prefers to sit in more uncertain territory. The title track is slinky and subtle, its wailing synths and CATE LE BON’s dead-eyed vocals giving the track a tense, unsettling vibe. Radiate’s saxophone assisted fade-out only adds to its sense of cloudy melancholy. EML Ritual is jerky and nervous, the rippling background synths keeping the track from settling into a comfortable pattern while various voices repeat ‘I don’t know what to do, I’m going to lose my mind.’
Intense and unique
The evolution of electronic music from underground scene to mainstream dominance (a trip THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS were an integral part of), has seen it turn in some odd directions. EDM is more popular than it ever has been, but at its most commercial level it has mutated into bloated arena music, simplistic good times tunes without any sense of innovation or subtlety. It’s almost as if Born in The Echoes is a response to the AVICII-led Walmartification of EDM, because it’s about as far away as possible from a simple party record. The album is weird, paranoid listening at times, angsty in themes and wildly diverse in terms of musical content, helped along by a wise selection of collaborators (ST VINCENT, Q-TIP and BECK all feature in addition to LE BON). Born in the Echoes is a deep, intense album, one that it’s difficult to imagine any other artist making. THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS are still a long, long way from being a heritage act.
On Born in the Echoes THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS prove that after more than twenty years, they’re still one of the most vital in electronic music.