Chemical Brothers

We Are the Night (Astralwerks)

On their sixth album of new material, the Chemical Brothers aren't breaking much new ground. But if you've been a fan of their big, floor-filling anthems from records past, you'll find plenty of blinking sound effects and booming drums here. We Are The Night's first single, "Do It Again," gives up an acidic beat and the repetitious vocals that keep the clubs filled, but the song fails to deliver a truly memorable tune. More intriguing are the pairings with singer-songwriters Willy Mason and Midlake's Tim Smith (the gothic "Battle Scars" and warmly ambient "The Pills Won't Help You Now," respectively), as they move subtly away from the dance floor and into more homey environs.

The Night gets fun with the quirky big-beat hip hop of "The Salmon Dance," featuring the Pharcyde's Fatlip rapping about fish life cycles, and the melodic, synth-driven "Saturate," which calls to mind the heady sounds of Orbital. "Das Spiegel" is the treasure in this mixed bag of tricks, though. Like the best new wave songs, it shows how emotionally charged simple machine music can be when played by the right practitioners. The single is easily the deepest and most mature track on the album. Building on a hard, bare-bones beat, the duo adds and subtracts layer upon layer of samples, guitars, synth lines, hand claps, melodica, and more to create a mini storyline that plays out before your very ears. "Das Spiegel" is a small masterpiece, and quite possibly worth the whole price of admission to We Are The Night.

 
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