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The Chemical Brothers - Push The Button


Review: Jack Foley

MODERN dance music may be in the crapper right now, but at least we can rely on The Chemical Brothers to offer something worth getting down to.

At a time when the super-clubs of Ibiza dictate the mainstream, it's refreshing to find that, 11 years on, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons remain at the top of their game.

Their beats and rhythms may lack the out and out freshness of the duo's wonder years, but there's no denying that these guys still have what it takes to remain at the forefront of the dance movement.

Push The Button, their fifth studio album, may lack the instant accessibility of, say, Exit Planet Dust or Surrender, but it's still an effective showcase of the brothers' talents.

First single and opening track, Galvanize, is, for example, a Middle Eastern flavoured mixture of urgent beats and brooding strings that are neatly offset by A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip's vocals.

It's a grower, it's contemporary and, after a few listens, it will have you wanting to sample more.

Regular collaborator, Tim Burgess (of The Charlatans), crops up on track two, with some crisp hooks for The Boxer - another heavy-hitting dancefloor buster.

Both tracks serve to ensure that the album gets off to an invigorating start.

Then, sadly, it threatens to lose its way. Believe is a huge disco anthem that becomes overly repetitive and a little too house-prone, which not even a guest vocal from Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke can save.

While Come Inside, which drops a tantalising Grandmaster Flash-style bassline, eventually falls into the same trap, even if its full-on beats will probably prove addictive to the dance crowd.

Sandwiched in between, however, is the delightfully spaced-out Hold Tight London, which places the Trespassers Williams’ Anna Lynne on vocal duties, in place of usual collaborator Beth Orton. (But if you liked Orton's contributions, then this is just as sublime).

The hip-hop vibe gets another workout in the anti-war track, Left Right, featuring Anwar Superstar, brother of Mos Def. But as good as it becomes (after a few listens), it still rates among the poorer efforts on the album.

Thereafter, though, things really take off and showcase Ed and Tom at their finest.

Close Your Eyes is a slice of psychedelic soul that recalls the glory days of the Private Psychedelic Reel, complete with a mercurial vocal turn from the hotly-tipped Magic Numbers (and their Mamas and Papas-based harmonies).

While final track, Surface To Air, is another epic slow-builder in the style used to close several of the brothers' past albums.

Featuring plenty of lush beats that build and break with effortless abandon, basslines that fade in and out, and a truly memorable final third, it brings the album to a soaring finale that uplifts the soul - just like Chemical Brothers of old.

But the real humdinger, however, is Marvo Ging, a hip-shaker of the highest quality featuring all manner of sliding guitars, magimix flamenco guitars, sublime beats and spliced vocals that recall the brilliance of Where Do I Begin.

It is during moments like these that Push The Button emerges as a great dance album and one that is well worth investing in.

 

Track listing:
1. Galvanize
2. The Boxer
3. Believe
4. Hold Tight London
5. Come Inside
6. The Big Jump
7. Left Right
8. Close Your Eyes
9. Shake Break Bounce
10. Marvo Ging
11. Surface To Air

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