REVIEW: The Chemical Brothers – Born In The Echoes

This is The Chemical Brothers‘ first studio album in five years. It’s the longest these boys have left us waiting for a new release in their mammoth career as it tiptoes into its third decade now. Hands up who feels old already.

Let’s recap quickly, before considering Born In The Echoes before us. Here is a duo that pretty much single handedly pioneered the big beats sound, with a definite swipe at the house market in the late 90s (don’t confuse this with their swipe at the housing market which, incidentally, never happened). The Chems entered into much more “grown up” territory of visual-led projects and film soundtracks with their most recent albums in 2010 and 2012 respectively.

It was almost unheard of for a serious dance act to have such significant commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic, but clever collaboration and smart production kept them fresh and on the right edge of edgy. In the 90s they delivered a new hybrid of slick house music into the charts by building bridges between the Britpop greats and big beat production. And oh, they did it so deliciously well. So we go in hoping they’ve not outgrown our need for flashy lights and pounding, jump-along hysteria.

We admit we’re far from disappointed with their new record. Opening track Sometimes I Feel Deserted is a warm welcome into what is another storming collection of Chems classics. I’ll See You There hints at tremendous remix potential, whereas Just Bang brings things back to house roots, edging into much deeper niche territory. It’s just very very cool, and something about this album makes us want to take all our clothes off. Which is perfectly normal, we imagine.

Certain elements remain steadfast and familiar, such as continued collaborations; this time with current cool kid St Vincent on the unbridled sexy-lectro Under Neon Lights and Cate Le Bon on the Eurotastic title track. As always, they feel like a match made in heaven rather than shoehorned farce.

It’s hard to pick a stand-out track. Go feels like we’ve known it all our sweet, sweet lives, once again bringing a comforting aspect to the listening experience, whereas the tail ends of the record showcase true beauties Radiate and euphorically mesmerising Beck vocals on closing track Wide Open. If you weren’t naked already, you will be by this point.

Born In The Echoes has once again proved that The Chemical Brothers are timeless experts at striking a perfect balance of cool while still having mainstream appeal and accessibility. There’s a real respect for The Chems’ roots and origins in unadulterated house music, which is even more an achievement when you think how difficult it is to stick to the same formula for 20 years and still remain fresh. Oh, and if sexy-lectro wasn’t a genre before, we’re making it one now. Trademark that shit immediately.

Nikki Gandy

Born In The Echoes by The Chemical Brothers can be ordered here.

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