It's been five years since The Chemical Brothers graced us with a studio album, so what have Tom and Ed been doing? Well, there's been a diversion into movie soundtrack work including the well received 'Hanna', a worthy official Chem Bros release, and contributions to 'Black Swan', 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1' as well as providing the official London 2012 cycling track, 'Velodrome'.
So given all that activity and the creation of this new album, the guys have been anything but slacking. Approaching national treasure status amongst music fans, especially those that've witnessed their live show, the duo were even handed the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection in 2014. Something that doesn't happen to yer average knob twiddlers.
As is the norm given such status, 'Born In The Echoes' boasts a mightily impress roster of vocal contributors including returning favourites Q-Tip ('Galvanise') and Ali Love ('Do It Again') as well as welcoming new guests St. Vincent, Cate Le Bon and Beck. The album displays each of the aspects of the duo's sounds; crashing rock dynamic workouts, considered, measured dance music and vocal led more traditionally song based dispatches.
There are echoes of their past glories across the album but just teasingly hinted at, as new heights are attained and new favourites forged. The album's opening 1-2 of 'Sometimes I Feel So Deserted' and 'Go' is hard to beat although 'I'll See You There' turns back the clock to 'The Private Psychedelic Reel' and Beck's appearance on the closing track 'Wide Open' provides a gorgeously melancholic finale.
It's maybe the precedent set by past rock stars that dictates that bands burn out or bore us by this stage in their career but, much like '90s peers Leftfield and Underworld, the Chemical Brothers continue to buck any notions of a creative burn-out with their strongest release in a decade.
Words: Nick Annan
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