The Chemical Brothers are responsible for some of the UK’s most memorable dance hits. Since their formation in 1989, tracks like Galvanise and Hey Boy, Hey Girl have seen them win Grammys and top the bill of Glastonbury, as well as remain one of the hottest names in dance music due to their hit singles and fairly frequent album releases.
New album Born In The Echoes is a straight up dance album, as expected. Single Go gradually rises in intensity throughout as Q-Tip’s spoken verses progress, showing that The Chemical Brothers are the masters of the slow burning, textured dance hit. The chorus then explodes into a mixture of speaking and singing over euphoric synths that it is impossible not to smile and dance to.
However, the main observation of Born In The Echoes is that it displays a level of diversity and creativity in its eleven tracks rarely seen with current dance artists. Throughout the tracklisting rock aspects are frequently included, with the duo putting their own spin on it every time. I’ll See You There is where this is perhaps most evident, with rock drums underpinning the majority of the track, as well as including a guitar solo. Along with this, however, high-pitched synth trills and what sounds like a theremin are added to the mix, resulting in a truly refreshing and interesting creation. And Born In The Echoes is definitely not short of them either, with most tracks mesmerizing in different ways. Taste Of Honey is psychedelic and trippy, and is a great mid-tempo change of pace from the fist-pumping fast-paced tracks on the album. Under Neon Lights initially sounds like a mishmash of light dance music with a few flutes and mandolins thrown in, but it soon becomes captivating. The music itself is more interesting than featured artist’s St Vincent’s vocals which have quite a confusing impact on the listener, but her vocals fit the music perfectly and really help to create a contemporary vibe that is truly compelling.
Some tracks do not work as well, though. Just Bang is the only track that does not really build up to create a beautiful texture, and the fact that there is no real vocal part makes it considerably less exciting than the rest of the album. EML Ritual uses one singular riff throughout, but the layering of guest vocalist Ali Love’s voice makes it seem more complex. It’s just a shame that the track is ruined by an irritating offbeat squeak throughout.
However, these are probably the only tracks there are real issues with. The other nine are consistently up to the mark in their own ways. The title track and album closer Wide Open are probably the two standouts. The former features Cate Le Bon and is almost like an alternative rock with a gritty bass guitar line, but synths are slowly introduced to create something truly funky and original. The latter immediately makes you feel warm and summery with its use of 90s-esque synths, which contrast beautifully with guest vocalist Beck’s contribution making a surefire staple for any dance fan’s summer playlist.
Born In The Echoes not only solidifies The Chemical Brothers’ place as one of the best dance acts ever, but it also shows how effortlessly they can keep up with the ever-changing scene, and start the trends themselves. Although there are a few filler tracks, and some songs arguably continue for a bit too long, it is definitely one of the duo’s best releases ever. There’s a reason why The Chemical Brothers have been around for two decades. Born In The Echoes will ensure they’ll be around for many more.
For fans of: Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy, deadmau5
Words by Georgia Jackson
‘Born In The Echoes’ by The Chemical Brothers is out now on Virgin EMI Records.