I've been reading plenty of reviews for this particular album, and I see the same thing a tad too often: the comparison to older albums. Seems like all the crazy dopers out there just want more of the same thing. Guess what! Artists and bands develop their sound over time! (Yes, sometimes, the change is good, and sometimes not -- whatever happened to Prözzak? Did they die of a Strange Disease?) One such group is Underworld. Yeah, Underworld is growing on me like a stagnant wart, ready to pop into liquid bliss. Prior to this album, their big DJ guy, Darren Emerson, left the group to pursue a solo career. Egotistical bastard. That left Karl Hyde and Rick Smith with the burden of continuing. Now they could have given up and said, "We had a good run... let's go produce teen pop in the U.S.!" Yet they decided to keep going, even without DJ The-Hell-With-You-Guys. So they sat down and put their brains to the test. As for the result...as a whole, it kicks ass. Even in comparison to old stuff, it still gives one's ass a mighty wallop.
The key to this album is not repetitiveness, but rather, interesting repetitiveness. Songs such as "Mo'Move", "Two Months Off", and "Dinosaur Adventure 3D" can be really repetitive, yet they still interest me constantly. They're just funky songs. These are the main upbeat tracks on the album, and the rest slips into somewhat of a more transcendental approach. Then there's the song "Trim" which most people seem to hate. This package shows that Underworld is moving forward instead of resorting to remaining stationary in terms of style development. Make one final note though: as in earlier albums, the lyrics are abstract, and to most of us, remain soaked by a haze of nonsense.
The album starts out with Mo Move, a tune that begins as seemingly trance, but eventually turns into a funkpot. It doesn't cause me to get up and dance, but it's a nice way to flow into an album such as this. The haunting indecipherable lyrics in the background add a moody touch. It's not a standout track on the CD in any way, so likely you'll be moving on to the next track after a few minutes of this. Good song, but certainly not the best, yo.
Two Months Off was the first single from this album, and 'twas rightly so! This is an awesome song with a cruelly-dancy beat! It starts off with some woman speaking as a girl who found unnecessary things written all over a heart, such as "Brandon is not a very nice guy, but Alex is so nice..." Yeah, I don't get it either -- I thought Alex was a jerk! It later transforms into a cowbell-and-squeegy beat, mixed with a synth smoothie of sorts that is a nice...uh...repetitive melody. One thing I don't always enjoy is the "false ending". Just when you think it ends, it starts up again around 8:30 (yes, it's that long) for a short interlude of fun reggae-style cowbell beats. But hey, sometimes we need to jam to a different vibe.
Next on the list is the marvel of Twist. "Twist" is a more ambient piece, calming us down from the previous frantic track. The soft sounds of maraccas in the background accompany a light electric piano throughout the song. Later, we are introduced to harder beat (but not too much harder), as well as various background noises that fit the song well, including what sounds like some unusual computer beep and an Indian flute. The bass is also nice too, and somewhat compliments the elec-piano. Near the end, extra synth instruments join the song to make for a nice trance journey. Kind of nice for a solemn rainy day.
The fourth track, Sola Sistim, is a truly 'organ-ic' song (I should be locked away for such horrible punnery), once again for the lovers of classic ambient Underworld tracks. It's a slow song, that's for sure, with some interesting noises here and there, but it's certainly not one of my personal favourites. I know -- I live for speed. Following that is Little Speaker, where that woman-girl creature from "Two Months Off" is back, but she says a hell of a lot more this time around. She's talking about all the stuff that's apparently wrong with her. She's getting taller and she's a fat bastard; she thinks she has a growing disease. ...yeah. If girls have to tell themselves this just to feel better about themselves, they need help. The beat of this song is one of the faster ones, which pleased me. The background music sounds like something that came from one of those low-budget Peanuts holiday specials. Around half-way through this song, the melody changes. That's also nice (and she pretty much shuts up after that). Good.
Trim reminds me of one of those old folk songs where nothing makes sense and nothing matters except the blisters on your fingers after hours of mindless banjoism. It's a steady beat, mixed with the twang of a nice guitar and a simplistic bass. It's still commercial though, because they added an advertisement within their lyrics: "Hey, Classic Coca-Cola in a can when you wanna cool down..."
If you couldn't get enough of those guitars, listening to Ess Gee may assist in satisfying your craving. The song gets some nice guitars going here -- no techno drum-thumping or anything, just the sound of a pair of guitars having intricate moments with each other. It's cute to listen to, but thankfully it's under two-and-a-half minutes long, as listening to this for a long time would cause me to skip over this song. Ah, heck, I still do anyway. But only because I am always anxious to get to Dinosaur Adventure 3D, the track that has often sent me into a joy spiral. It's certainly a pleasing tune for clubbers, featuring a typical synth-bass and quick organ notes together in melodic harmony. Ah! que c'est belle! It's also stricken with some freaky drug-induced hippie lyrics that just plain damn work. "...I feel dazed; I feel day's orange glow with a pineapple head; walks in the sun with a friend the mouse, with a friend the shadow..." We don't really know what the hell he's talkin' about. Doesn't have to do with any dinosaurs, or adventures, or journeys into the third dimension. Doesn't matter.
Ballet Lane is another one of the lesser interesting tracks found on this album. There's a whole lotta pluckin' goin' on, but I just can't seem to get into this one. If you just want to "chillax" (a sad new-age blend of "chill" and "relax", for those of you out of the loop -- hello!), sure, put this on, you'll be a happy camper. Don't expect to get superfunky with this one though. However, it's Luetin that will keep you hooked after this sleeper song. With the repeated "sneaky" bass line (I call it sneaky because it reminds me of someone sneaking through an alleyway at night), and the lyrics that once again mean very little, this is actually a nice song that I eventually started to enjoy after a few listens. I think I heard the word "sex" in this song a few times; that's always a plus.
Overall, even thought there are a couple of slow tracks that just don't always keep my attention (such as "Sola Sistim" and "Ballet Lane" come to mind), the album comes across as a somewhat well-polished piece. If you expect to be able to dance to this in some flashing-light disco scene, then you're wrong. A few tracks are club-worthy, but the rest are for kicking back and playing computer Solitaire to, as I enjoy doing.