It had been three years since Surrender had been released. At the dawn of the new millennium, The Chemical Brothers continued putting out new releases. This is their fourth album to date, yet does it stand the test of time? Let’s find out.
We begin with the title track Come With Us which has a blistering string section with some sound effects. It eventually goes into an outer space style piece with some trippy sound effects and breakbeats to boot. Some vocal samples are mixed into this piece, before going into a fantastic piece of electronic music. The whole piece is a great start to this album. In the second half is a weird and funky breakdown, before going into a frenzied section of this song. The outro is low key, yet very psychedelic.
Next is It Began In Afrika which is very much a reference to Charles Darwinist sort of philosophy. A voice introduces this piece, before going into a very psychedelic piece with some chime like sounds and a 4/4 beat. It sounds pretty different to what you’d usually expect from The Chemical Brothers, with jaguars sampled from the computer game Pitfall: A Mayan Adventure, tribal drums and a great sense of rhythm. The drums in this are really fantastic, and we have a wonderful piece of interesting music here. Rather hypnotic as well, this is really good. The high pitched melody in the breakdown in the second half need not be added here. Still, this whole piece sounds as though it was recorded under the influence of psychedelics. Brilliant. It segues into the next track.
Galaxy Bounce is next, with cut up delayed vocals and a basic rhythm. It quickly goes into a funky and energetic rhythmic piece that sounds really great. Some call and response wordless harmonies are here, which drive this piece along nicely. An excellent track, this is a great mish-mash of vocal based sound effects. The breakdown in the second half has some brilliant vocal based cut up sound effects, as does the rest of the track. Awesome stuff. The whole thing is cyber brilliance. It ends abruptly.
Star Guitar comes next, and is a totally underrated piece by The Chemical Brothers. It begins with a subtle melody and handclaps, before going straight into a beatastic piece. This is brilliant and warm, even romantic sounding (if that can be done by electronic music?) for a song by the duo. Some stardust sounds enter, and away we go. The piece itself is really amazing, and is very unique and original, with different sections and well delivered beats. The midsection is brilliant, “You should feel what I feel, you should take what I take,” is chanted here, an obvious reference to drug use, but a great one at that. This is repeated nicely, before going back into the main track. The track is one of The Chemical Brothers best, and deserve repeat listens. This is a majestic and beautiful piece of music. The outro has plenty of cut up beats and ends superbly. Great tune.
Next is Hoops which begins with some cut up and reversed sounds, before going into a guitar sampled piece with some nicely sampled vocals referring to more drug use. Some acoustic guitar parts are put into place here, which sound really great. Before long, this goes into a 4/4 beat piece that sounds really quite good. It is much more minimal than previous tracks on this album. Sounds and sections alternate, before going into some wonderful acoustic guitar playing, and back again to the minimal track at hand. This is a very good listen. Towards the end, the beats end and we have some fantastic acoustic guitar playing here. Regardless of if this is real acoustic guitar or not, doesn’t really matter. It sounds excellent. Nice tune, and fades out gently, with a Nine Inch Nails like outro of electronic sounds here.
Following is My Elastic Eye which doesn’t sound as good as some of the other tracks here, with a weird intro. It goes into a weird pastiche of Indian influenced sounds. Fortunately, this piece is rather short, as it is a weak point on this album. A good tune, but not by any means great. The cut up sound effects are nicely done, however. Otherwise, fairly forgettable. Likely just filler on this album here. It ends with some slowed down beats. Good, but definitely not great.
The State We’re In comes next. It has some robotic noises to begin with, before going into a tranquil Primal Scream sounding piece. Beth Orton sings here in a very nice way. This is quite good, but hasn’t aged very well. No discredit to Beth Orton, but The Chemical Brothers were not making as good tunes as they originally did here. It’s a slow piece that doesn’t have 4/4 beats, just a slow groove with acoustic and electronic sounds mixed together in a track. It’s a good effort, but not a great one. The amount of electronic trickery here is pretty brilliant, however. There is always something interesting going on in the background here. Towards the end are some 4/4 beats and some textures that are an improvement here, as this track segues into the next track.
Denmark is next here. It has some 4/4 beats and some good percussion sounds, before going into a funky bassline. This is much better than some of what came before, and is awesome and danceable. Some cut up breakbeats enter, and we get underway. Some funky bass guitar then enters as the main melody. This is quite good, full of energy and excitement here. In the midsection are robotic vocals, before some processed electric guitar sounds enter. This is a great example of underrated work by The Chemical Brothers. The beats eventually resume, with some Miles Davis Sketches Of Spain style trumpet briefly in the background. The funky bass resumes and is centrepiece to the rest of this track. Some weird sounds end this track, as it segues into the next piece.
Next is Pioneer Skies which is pretty ordinary. It begins with an awful melody that could have been cut from this piece, before some more welcome percussion sounds enter. The piece then continues, but there is nothing hugely special about it. The intricacies are here, but the quality is not. Still, it is an interesting listening experience, even if it is not the the best track on this album. The second half is a lot better, with a repeated and interesting melody. It ends with a very dark chord.
Last is The Test which is actually a really great tune. It begins with some electronically processed melodies reminiscent of The Beatles, before Richard Ashcroft (from The Verve) enters with his awesome singing. The lyrics and music complement each other perfectly. An acoustic melody then enters, and we get underway. The whole piece sounds really glorious, and we have a really wonderful and catchy piece of music. This track has some super spacey sounds throughout, and some wonderful vocal work from Richard Ashcroft is here, too. A wonderful and beautiful piece that will bring tears of happiness to your eyes listening. “Did I pass…the Acid test?” asks Richard Ashcroft here, a quintessential question to those who have tried LSD. A great tune from start to finish, and the effort here is unmistakable. It gradually breaks down towards the end, with some more Sun King style sounds, before we conclude the album. Amazing.
This album is really good, but the patchy quality prevents it from being a great album. The highlights are truly amazing, yet the low points are pretty awful. The Chemical Brothers therefore delivered a mixed bag, however with some of their most intricate pieces to date.
Just about there.