Bands that produce dance music are rarely known for their longevity. There are no long term benefits, and certainly no pension plan. Dance music trends move on so quickly that the most you can hope for is a few hit singles and maybe even a moderate selling album. Make your money while you can, then let in the next generation of producers. Right? There are few who have broken this trend with such achievement as Manchester two-piece Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands, aka The Chemical Brothers. There debut long-player ‘Exit Planet Dust’ exploded them on to the scene in 1995, and twenty years later they are still going as strong. But more than that, they have maintained a credibility and a certain coolness that is usually reserved for our indie bands. ‘Born In The Echoes’ is their eight studio album.
By now it’s fair to say that they have perfected their sound. It has the random effects, crazy bleeps and full on dance beats you expect from The Chems. Whilst there have been moments in their career they have swayed on the popier side of things to appeal to the mass market, they have always found their feet again to produce albums that the fans can really get on board with, and go back to year after year. On 2010’s ‘Further’ they returned to their routes and produced an album for the clubs. On ‘Born In The Echoes’ they seem to have struck a balance. It has all the club credentials we know and love them for, but mixing it in with the kind of vocal tracks they have scored their biggest hits with in the past. The album kicks off with leading single ‘Sometimes I Feel So Deserted’. I can really see it being a part of one of their live sets. Anyone who has caught them live will be familiar with their impressive holographic light show. On tracks like this you can almost see the images flashing up in front of your eyes. The two elements of their performance go pretty much hand in hand now.
Amongst the collaborations there are a couple of coming back for a second crack. Who wasn’t excited on hearing the boys had teamed up with Q-Tip again. ‘Galvanize’ became the band’s biggest and most loved anthem. New track ‘Go’ is maybe not quite as anthemic as its predecessor, but is still worthy of a throwing a few shapes to at your local indie club. It has more of an eighties synth sound than anything they have done before. But why would they record another ‘Galvanize’? They have been there, done that. It’s their ability to create new and interesting dance music that has kept them on top of their game for so many years. Ali Love also comes back for another track. He most famously collaborated with them on 2006 single ‘Do It Again.’ It’s a shame he never made it as big as expected back then, as he is a great talent. His inclusion on this album is a welcome one. Throughout the madness, there is one rare moment of reflection on penultimate track. Gone are the euphoric beats, replaced with a more ambient sound. It all comes to a close with ‘Wide Open’. This is probably the most melodic, song-based track on the album. The Chems have always had a host of huge star vocalists on their tracks, from Gallagher to Gillespie. Beck’s vocal on the album closer continues this legacy nicely.
The Chemical Brothers really have their sound down to a tee now. There may be plenty of other producers of electronic music out there, but they continue to keep their crown. ‘Born In The Echoes’ reminds us why. They continue to be just as relevant today as they were at the start of their career.