The Chemical Brothers show no signs of fatigue on their seventh LP.
Ian Wade 2010
The Chemical Brothers were always a step ahead, a step Further (ho ho) if you will. While their contemporaries crashed, burned, and then possibly reformed, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons have kept their material fresh for six – five of which have been chart-toppers – studio albums of high-quality shape-throwing, and there’s no reason given here why they should throw in their rave towels now.
Dispensing with the usual guest vocalists of previous works, seventh album Further is more in the vein of the duo’s Electronic Battle Weapon tracks, where they would road test still-evolving tracks in their DJ sets, and with Further they’ve turned eight of these into a colossal throbbing whole, accompanied by a DVD put together by their long-time visual collaborators Adam Smith and Marcus Lyall. Adam himself has been building up a directing sideline, helming a couple of episodes in the current Dr Who series, which to anyone who’s ever witnessed the Chems’ live spectacle makes perfect sense.
Free from building tunes to fit collaborators – with the exception of snatches of Tom or Stephanie Dosen (on Snow), used more as accents and motifs than to guide proceedings – the duo are let loose to stretch their disco legs and make the technology the star. Synths are brutally manhandled and pushed to their limits across the eight tracks, with the pair’s well-known winning recipe of techno textures and mind-tilting psychedelia unleashed. This is a band that sets their stall out with acid house as a starting point, and have managed to carve out new shapes from it ever since.
Highlight-wise, Escape Velocity builds and builds and builds to giddying heights of arms-aloft euphoria and transports you into air-punching hysteria. Horse Power is mental in a superb off-your-box polyphonic rave assault style, giving way to the My Bloody Valentine-inspired Swoon with shards of weaving noise fizzing across grin-inducing acidic bliss-pop. K+B+D Krauts out gorgeously into a propulsive nod-fest, and closer Wonders of the Deep burbles and glows in its own orbit, comprising a glorious star-gazing finale.
On Further, The Chemical Brothers show no signs of fatigue, and the absence of any star names matters not a jot. It’s better to continuously explode than fade away, or something. Really rather wonderful indeed.