The Chemical Brothers: Born In the Echoes | Album review

Born In the Echoes
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Artist: The Chemical Brothers
Genre: Electronic
Label: Virgin EMI

Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands have taken some strange turns and encountered some odd characters over the last 20 years.

The trip from sweaty clubs-in-pubs and block-rocking beats to festival main stages and superstar DJs has produced thrillers like Dig Your Own Hole and Exit Planet Dust for the duo.

That brace were records which were perfectly of the moment, though there have also been a fair cut of releases which sounded like the brothers were merely going through the motions rather than working something new out.

It appears as if the five-year gap between releases has served the thrust of Born In the Echoes well. That break has given them enough time to cleanse palettes, refresh energy levels and establish a hunger to push ahead once again.

While there are some familiar elements – there are contributions from vocalists like Annie ‘St Vincent’ Clark, Beck, Cate Le Bon and Ali Love in keeping with the duo’s modus operandi during their pomp – it’s telling that the most satisfaction here comes from the crunch and grit which powers the tracks.

This tang of the hard stuff is compelling. For all the glitter and effervescent glee of Go (Q-Tip putting forward the case for a hip-house revival), the real joy comes from the superb electronic thump on tracks like Just Bang, Reflexion and the glorious fuzz scene on Radiate.

Annie Clark gives Under Neon Lights a real blue of the night chill, while Beck's appearance on Wide Open pushes all the right psychedelic buttons.

It's not the only example of kaleidoscopic thinking here, the Chemicals being one of those (aptly named) acts with an interest in psych fermentation. Here, it also manifests itself in the width and depth of I'll See You There and the title track. Old ravers will dig this record, but they won't be the only ones relishing what they hear in these echoes.