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And then there were two. Underworld are back with a beauty.
Forget a hundred days off, it’s been over three years since Messrs Hyde, Emerson and Smith regaled us with tales of snake kings and “rolled-up newspaper setting on fire”, on their last album Beaucoup Fish. And now that Darren Emerson, their well respected DJ and dancefloor guru, has left the band, you’d be forgiven for expecting their sound to have changed. But it hasn’t, it’s just more focused, and possibly even better.
Within the first 16 bars of the album’s opener Mo Move you’re back in familiar territory – a rolling, percussive 4/4 groove, gradually building, with Karl Hyde’s voice washing in. You’ve been here before and, as the album progresses, you’re reminded of more Underworld styles. There’s the big anthemic one in Two Months Off, the downtempo morose one, the banging one with Karl chanting, the breakbeat one, it’s all in there. Slightly smoother than Beaucoup fish, slightly brighter than Second Toughest. The percussion has a more Latin feel and the sounds are perhaps less in your face, but if you’re a fan it shouldn’t disappoint in the slightest.
With Leftfield over, The Prodigy becoming a caricature of themselves, and Layo and Bushwacka! not quite there yet, it’s up to the next Chemical Brothers album to challenge them at the top of dance’s heavyweight league. AL 12 September 02
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