Review : The Chemical Brothers - Further
PitchforkBack when people were still figuring out what electronic dance albums were supposed to be, the Chemical Brothers worked out a durable and recognizable formula, and they stuck with it: dancefloor bangers up front, woozily expansive psychedelic tracks at the end, big-name collaborations wherever possible. That formula served them well through three classic albums (Exit Planet Dust, Dig Your Own Hole, and Surrender) and one pretty good one (Come With Us). But they stuck with it two albums too long. The duo's last two full-lengths, 2005's Push the Button and 2007's We Are the Night, were, respectively, a spotty mess and an outright disaster. After an album like that, it's time to blow things up and start again, and that's what they've done with Further.
Further doesn't open with a banger. In fact, there's barely a single track among the album's eight that could be termed as such. There are no hackneyed stabs at British chart relevance, like 2005's clumsy and pandering but (let's face it) successful Q-Tip collab "Galvanize", which still gets play as go-to-commercial music during NBA games. Further features vocals on about half of its tracks, but they're all anonymous, mostly used to repeat one mantra or another over and over. And rather than attempting some sort of crossover-dance smash, the Chems do something new here: an album-length suite of warm, gooey utopianism, one that never smashes you over the head with obvious hooks or high-concept floor-fillers. It's a slow, patient piece of work, all vibe and no frenzy. The drums don't kick in until a couple of minutes into track two, and they sound glorious when they finally do. Further is a retrenchment move, and it's a good one....full text
BbcThe Chemical Brothers were always a step ahead, a step Further (ho ho) if you will. While their contemporaries crashed, burned, and then possibly reformed, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons have kept their material fresh for six – five of which have been chart-toppers – studio albums of high-quality shape-throwing, and there’s no reason given here why they should throw in their rave towels now.
Dispensing with the usual guest vocalists of previous works, seventh album Further is more in the vein of the duo’s Electronic Battle Weapon tracks, where they would road test still-evolving tracks in their DJ sets, and with Further they’ve turned eight of these into a colossal throbbing whole, accompanied by a DVD put together by their long-time visual collaborators Adam Smith and Marcus Lyall. Adam himself has been building up a directing sideline, helming a couple of episodes in the current Dr Who series, which to anyone who’s ever witnessed the Chems’ live spectacle makes perfect sense.
Free from building tunes to fit collaborators – with the exception of snatches of Tom or Stephanie Dosen (on Snow), used more as accents and motifs than to guide proceedings – the duo are let loose to stretch their disco legs and make the technology the star. Synths are brutally manhandled and pushed to their limits across the eight tracks, with the pair’s well-known winning recipe of techno textures and mind-tilting psychedelia unleashed. This is a band that sets their stall out with acid house as a starting point, and have managed to carve out new shapes from it ever since....full text
GuardianThe Chemical Brothers have slightly changed their way of working on their seventh album. Gone – apart from a snatch of Stephanie Dosen on the opening, hymnal Snow – are the celebrity guest vocalists, with Tom Rowlands occasionally singing instead. Conceived to accompany digital films, the eight tracks have been designed to ebb and flow like one of their pulverising live sets. Perhaps this explains why the results sound reassuringly familiar. The piledriving Horsepower and almost equally loudspeaker-troubling Escape Velocity hark back to their glorious early-90s Big Beat period, the latter via very early Kraftwerk. Swoon pays homage to My Bloody Valentine and Orbital's Halcyon, while K+D+B's drums-and-melody soundscape battles with the giant sonic shadow cast by the Brothers' own The Private Psychedelic Reel from 1997. There is some progression in the slightly bigger beats, higher-tech FX and a stadium rather than club feel. Further may lack a stone–cold standout, but fans of their classic work could do worse than reconnect with them here....full text
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