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January 21, 2005


New Chemical Brothers album: maybe not terrible

push the button

Today's Guardian has a review of the Chemical Brothers' latest album, Push the Button, which is set to be released in the US next week. Given the sorry state of British dance music these days (pathetic recent stuff from Fatboy Slim and Prodigy, Orbital calling it quits, and Daft Punk's forthcoming album reportedly involving a lot of guitars--since they're French, maybe it'll be good) the Chemicals are one of the few groups from the old days who haven't become totally irrelevant.

I attended a "listening party" for the album earlier this week, and the songs that I think were off the album, and didn't turn out to be ill-advised mixes of new U2 songs, were good. The review suggests that they've left behind that swooshy, trippy stuff from Come With Us, but have also progressed beyond the big beat sound that they helped define (and also clung to for maybe one track too many in the late '90's.) This one seems to feature toned-down beats, more strings, and some effects that are "just deliriously odd."

Unfortunately, they fail to resist the worst trend in dance albums by groups past their prime: the guest vocalist. Bringing on Beth Orton or Tim Burgess from The Charlatans to sing for one of your tracks (or, God help us, Noel Gallagher) is akin to the moment a TV series brings on Dick Van Dyke or William Shatner as a guest star. One of the guest vocalists on Push the Button is Q-Tip, which could be interesting, but then again, another one of them is the omni-present Tim Burgess. "The Charlatans' frontman provided guest vocals on their epochal debut, but times have changed. These days, Burgess is resident in LA. Unfortunately, [the track] The Boxer gives him an opportunity to deploy both a standard-issue mid-Atlannick accent and his own patent contribution to the panoply of vocal styling, the Awful Falsetto. 'I'm a hustler, I'm a tiger,' he squeaks, sounding nothing like a hustler or a tiger."

Every album they've ever done has contained at least a couple of great moments. It may not be like the old days, but perhaps the Chemical Brothers can struggle through without becoming an embarrassment.

categories: Music
posted by amy at 3:29 PM | #

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Tracked on April 7, 2006 5:47 AM