While many of the great Britpop and alternative bands of the 90s have been pulling off brilliant comebacks recently, the era’s dance and electronica legends have also seen a definite resurgence lately. Last year saw the likes of The Orb, Underworld, The Prodigy and Orbital release their finest material in years after all of them stumbled slightly during the 2000s. The Chemical Brothers (aka Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons) were another act who amazed during the 1990s, with seminal records such as ‘Exit Planet Dust’ and the mega-selling ‘Dig Your Own Hole’.
But you can easily be forgiven if you thought the duo seemed to lose a bit of steam on the releases that came after their 1999 masterpiece ‘Surrender’ and before 2015’s return to form ‘Born In The Echoes’. The rejuvenation continues and is even more evident on the ninth album ‘No Geography’, a hugely melodic affair full of the most memorable hooks Tom and Ed have produced in over two decades.
The vocoder and old skool house vibes of genre-splicing opener ‘Eve Of Destruction’ are embellished by a walloping bassline, producing a cracking curtain raiser that takes off like a disco-funk scud missile. We’re off to a good start. And it continues with the breakbeats and heavy quantities of cowbell that are unleashed on ‘Bango’, where skewed vocals play against the music effectively.
The pair approached things differently on this record, building another studio within their studio, filling it with hardware used on the previous two LPs and other equipment that had been gathering dust in Rowlands’ attic. It also does away with the sort of guest vocalists from the indie rock world that appeared on albums like ‘Dig Your Own Hole’, ‘Surrender’ and ‘Come With Us’, favouring a return to their psychedelic house roots.
The title track trips into a dreamlike space, with Orbital-like synths and beams of sonic light gleaming right through it, while the sizzling single ‘Got To Keep On’ takes flight with a deep, sturdy groove and jolting bass. ‘Gravity Drops’ boasts strange colours, while abstract analogue synths buzz and shine around the surface as odd rhythms take hold, leading into the headrush of the shimmering ‘The Universe Sent Me’.
Sampling The Hallelujah Chorus’s ‘I’ve Got To Find A Way’, the wonderful ‘We Got To Try’ puts laid back vocal samples up against chunky hip hop and acid synth bass, while pulsing lead single ‘Free Yourself’ whips up a frenzy and buzzes with awesome energy.
The high energy highlight ‘MAH’ evolves through spells of disturbing laughter, acidy synths and hard-hitting beats, before this hugely impressive collection of tracks draws to a satisfying close with the gorgeous analogue keys and solemn glow of the soulful ‘Catch Me I’m Falling’. Still sounding admirably fresh and doing the world of electronic music proud in 2019.