Copyright 2002 Virgin Records

[ February 1st 2002 ]

The Chemical Brothers demand the audience come with them on their latest album but it seems like we have already been there. After a two-year absence, the UK duo responsible for making electronica mainstream have returned and little, it seems, has changed.

Unlike other artists who have veered away from their successful sound, trying to shrug off the pop masses who now feign interest in the genre, The Chemical Brothers have returned to their beginnings with a less than brilliant result. The sound might be familiar but there is nothing here to challenge Block Rockin' Beats.

The album starts frenetically enough, with the title track's bass and drums driving into a club-friendly mix, and some genuinely strong segments sliced between parts of lesser moment. Galaxy Bounce, a tight and catchy number from the Tomb Raider soundtrack, lights up the album's middle, along with another stand-out, Hoops, which gets mileage from a guitar riff before lapsing into electronic.

The pair also experiment with themes - It Began In Afrika is a trancey tribute to the nation, complete with bongos, while Pioneer Skies trials a train motif. Then there are the requisite guest singers, this time in the form of Beth Orton and Richard Ashcroft. Their tracks are solid but you have to wonder why there are not more of them. All in all, it's not a bad effort.

A few more hooks and a bit of new ground might have made it great.

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