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The Chemical Brothers: "Push The Button"
(***)

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The Brothers worked it out!

I heard the Chemical Brothers were releasing a new album. I thought to myself, well, I have the others, I might want to check this one out as well - to give the brothers one last chance to earn their place on my active playlist. The widely hated album "Surrender" had some jewels inside it, but was disappointing on the whole. "Come With Us" mostly made up for that, but still left something to be desired. Now it seems that the brothers have - perhaps against all odds - managed to regain their edge in the art of big beat / IDM.

Before getting the album I decided to download the first two tracks off it as samples to base my purchase decision on. The reviews people had made of the album were very conflicting, some deeming "Galvanize" the only worthy track and others writing it off as filler. As I listened to Galvanize, I was in shock. To those of you who are uncertain, let me spell it out for you: It's rap. It's hiphop. It's just like that crowdpleasing bullshit they've been playing at "trendy" hetero clubs since 2004 or so. Luckily the next track showed that the brothers had not abandoned their true forte, which is big beat. "The Boxer" is vintage Chemical Brothers, although with a happy melody. This album shows that since the first two chemical brothers albums, harmony has been where they've evolved most. They've never stopped crafting crazy mindblowing beats, but here more than ever they show their ability to work with melodies as well. (Something they obviously tried with "Surrender", but it took them a couple of albums to get it right).

Because few people actually listenend through "Surrender", they won't notice how much this album borrows from it. This album feels to me like something that "Surrender" might have turned out like if more of the tracks on it had been more inspired, or perhaps just thought out differently. The link between "Out of Control" and "Believe", to name one example, is beyound subtle. Believe, and it's follow-up "Hold Tight London", are brilliant dance tracks, with the former being a bit darker and clubbish, and the latter more lush with strummed guitars. "Come Inside" is just plain cool to listen to - I can't come up with decent words to describe it. Think of "Hey Boy Hey Girl" turned to rock. Very compelling.

"Left Right" is another rap track which I could've done without, thank you very much. But again, the next track more than makes up for it. "Close Your Eyes" really got to me with its tearjerking atmosphere. The melody is a bit reminiscent of U2 or somesuch, but the sheer honesty, innocence and reality of the lyrics and the way they're sung are surreal. If you never did buy "Surrender", this track is going to shock you. Hell, it shocked me! The most beautiful track I've heard this new year came from the Chemical Brothers? How can that be?

As we're nearing the end, the tracks seem more disjointed. "Shake Break Bounce" gets the Filler Track Award 2005 from me. A track that doesn't really offer anything interesting, just a rnb'ish beat with a few effects and little to no melody to it. Then we get "Marvo Ging" with some reverse guitar action that draws from "Where Do I Begin" but isn't that appealing at all, it's like they took some weird country/western influence into the track. Luckily "Surface To Air" will leave you smiling at the end of the album - an effect not to be underestimated. It's a bittersweet rock/IDM mix that's again a bit reminiscent of U2 with its airy atmosphere, wide-sounding guitars and light melodies.

I'd say this album pretty much puts the Chemical Brothers back to the top of their game - it's not without fault, but it's much better and more inspired than it could have been. The Chemical Brothers, like all great musicians, have proven that they're not afraid to reinvent themselves when what they've been doing so far is starting to turn into routine.

TOP TRACKS: Close Your Eyes, Come Inside, Believe, The Boxer

Tracklist

  1. Galvanize
  2. The Boxer
  3. Believe
  4. Hold Tight London
  5. Come Inside
  6. The Big Jump
  7. Left Right
  8. Close Your Eyes
  9. Shake Break Bounce
  10. Marvo Ging
  11. Surface To Air
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Virgin 2005

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Review by Saboteur


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