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The Chemical Brothers - No Geography (Album Review)

Tuesday, 16 April 2019 Written by Jacob Brookman

In the 1990s—along with Fatboy Slim and the Prodigy—the Chemical Brothers popularised a particular brand of big beat electronica that ran adjacent to, and sometimes intertwined with, the pompously termed Intelligent Dance Music movement. Their ninth studio album, ‘No Geography’ boldly revisits this sound, updating it thematically while combining many of the compositional elements brilliantly. The result is probably their best album since 2002’s ‘Come With Us’.

One of the reasons for this is how easily Messrs. Rowlands and Simons deploy tried and tested production techniques with fresh eyes and ears, and the first four tracks are a case in point. Moving into each other as though it were a mix tape, openers Eve of Destruction and Bango are intense party tunes with familiar, frenetic synth flares and sci-fi vocal samples that feel both ridiculous and engaging. It’s wild rave music made with conscience and craft, and it feels truly relevant in a way that their previous three albums have not.

We then move into the massive title track. This is a bit more emotional, with epic chords and smashy drums that could form the soundtrack to the final level of a racing video game.

Rowlands has gone on record to say that some of the equipment used on the album has been buried in his attic for 20 years, and though sounds deployed here will be familiar to long time Chemical Brothers fans, the music is far from dated. Indeed, by the time we move into Got To Keep On, we feel in very contemporary territory indeed; somewhere between Jungle, Calvin Harris and the-just-about-still-contemporary Kanye West.

Another standout moment comes on the fantastically odd We’ve Got To Try, which opens with a soul sample before dropping into a spidery big beat groove with blips, beeps, string refrains and tonal switcheroos. The samples are taken from the Hallelujah Chorus’s 1973 track I’ve Got to Find a Way, and while it doesn’t connect in the seamless way that other cuts do, one can’t help but be transfixed by it’s collagey madness.  

When the Chemical Brothers began to recede from the mainstream in the mid ‘00s, it seemed like they were in slow decline—but for their consistently elevated live shows. ‘No Geography’ demonstrates that they are still a force compositionally, with tracks that surprise and amaze in equal measure. It’s fabulous news. They are one of the world’s great dance acts, and it's great to see them flourishing in this way.

The Chemical Brothers Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri May 24 2019 - LONDON Victoria Park
Fri June 28 2019 - ST AUSTELL Eden Project
Sat August 24 2019 - WARRINGTON Daresbury Estate
Thu November 21 2019 - LEEDS first direct Arena
Fri November 22 2019 - MANCHESTER Arena
Sat November 23 2019 - GLASGOW SSE Hydro
Thu November 28 2019 - CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena Cardiff
Fri November 29 2019 - BIRMINGHAM Arena Birmingham

Click here to compare & buy The Chemical Brothers Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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