The Chemical Brothers – Born in the Echoes
The first three songs – all released as singles – are the album’s best and push this to a ‘B+.’ “Sometimes I Feel So Deserted” is fucking invigorating – thunderous drumrolls, flashing strobelights-as-synths – while still being slightly off-kilter, with the metallic grind and simulatenous whoosh of the percussion, and the pitch-shifted vocal hook (“Sometimes I feel so deserted / But hold on because help is on the way”) that’s singalongable and reassuring, given the pump-up context. “Go” has gotten compared to “Galvanize”, but the song’s pummeling bass line is a good a replacement as any to that song’s string hook, and Q-Tip’s rare voice is always a treat. “Under Neon Lights” sees St. Vincent silently screaming in existential crisis as she performs the same song for the umpteenth time; the Chem Brothers create a template such that Ms. Clark’s drifting “Got no husband, got no wife” is somehow a fucking hook.
But nothing on the album interests me throughout the entirety of the song’s length, even if the ideas are there: spinning “Tomorrow Never Knows” on a big beat template on “I’ll See You There” was an admirable idea, if ultimately an annoyance; Ali Love’s draggy vocals was a horrible idea given the kinetic bassline of “EML Ritual”; the slow-funk of “Taste of Honey” is the album’s most – again – off-kilter song, but it plods towards its guitar spluttering conclusion (preceded by a gorgeous, brief vocal); “Radiate”‘s sun-washed conclusion is pretty, as is the Beck feature (though like a lot of things Beck-related, especially of late, ultimately innocuous). It doesn’t help that big beat was always a physically exhausting genre to take in the album format, even in its heyday.
DJ Rashad – 6613 [EP]
DJ Rashad’s second posthumously released EP, and we’re seeing diminishing returns already: “Ya Hot” isn’t anything to write home about (mostly driven by that synth line); “Do Not Fuck” is, at best, a showcase of the direction that DJ Rashad would have likely headed in (with its alarm blare used throughout trap rap; cf. Future’s “Fuck Some Commas” et al.). “Cause I Know U Feel” is a repeat of We on 1‘s “Something ‘Bout the Things U Do” (Gant-Man featuring remix of an 80s song): solid, though the clipped rapid-fire sample is overlong and over-used. The best song here is the opener, contrasting (I’m guessing) DJ Spinn’s mellower synth notes with happy vocal samples.
Darkstar – Foam Island
Humans of New York stories set to elevator muzak; so inoffensive that it’s offensive. Is anyone surprised? These guys got 5 seconds of fame for thinking of one brilliant title and then writing a song around it (“Aidy’s Girl Is a Computer”) – everything before and after – and there has been much – has been nonsense.