The Chemical Brothers

Born In The Echoes

The Chemical Brothers were making dance music for rock audiences long before Calvin Harris landed an Emporio Armani underwear sponsorship. For better or worse, the British duo’s eighth LP is a reminder of how loyal they’ve remained to the chunky “big beat” style that made them an alt-rock concern 20 years ago.

Where they differ from EDM wannabes is the depth and texture they put into their productions, even if Born In The Echoes feels crafted with party-loving festival audiences in mind. Opener Sometimes I Feel So Deserted isn’t a particularly bad song, but the way it flips Big Moses and Kenny Bobien’s gospel-house track Brighter Days into an aggressive homage to the airlock-chamber siren from the Alien franchise makes it come off as an unfortunate metaphor for the bro-ification of dance music.

The album continues in that bloodless vein until the final third, when the tone shifts, the vocals recede, and the drums grow dustier and the guitars psychier. A sense of mood or inner life is glimpsed. But by that point, it just seems like an echo of past glories.

Top track: Born In The Echoes 

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