When you think of UK dance groups, there are a few names that come to mind like The Prodigy, Orbital, Massive Attack, Underworld and The Chemical Brothers. They have conquered the charts in their home country, while also going on to become international sensations. Each birthed from the late 80’s and early 90’s acid house and rave scene, they took those influences and paved their own lanes that have helped them stand the test of time. The Chemical Brothers are carrying on that tradition with the release of a new album No Geography, out today.
Ed Simon and Tom Rowlands are in as fine a form as they have been in a long time. The two channel what has made them so great over the years into this album without sounding like they are recycling old ideas or relying on old sounds. They are among the best at bringing psychedelic, bombastic rave and big beat music to the masses and No Geography does just that, but in a new and fresh way.
The singles for No Geography gave fans a window into what the album would sound like with some of the ravier, spastic records like “Free Yourself” and the pumping acid-infused orchestral arrangement “We’ve Got To Try.” No Geography isn’t just bombastic, arena sized beats though. It has long, hypnotic psychedelic numbers like “Gravity Drops” and then “The Universe Sent Me” that give you a break from the thumping openers and closers for an intermission of sorts.
The record has a bit more of a classic feel to it because they broke out their old equipment and set up a new studio to record in, taking themselves into a new space mentally and musically to record. It doesn’t have the blockbuster collabs like Born In The Echoes such as Beck, St. Vincent or Q-Tip and the occasional big pop hook.
The Chemical Brothers have been a group in tune with the times, but this is an album that feels like they couldn’t ignore the world around them. The cover and name No Geography is inherently political with an open tank pointing menacingly towards a beautiful skyline as if to show the futility of these wartime actions. Song’s like “Eve Of Destruction” and “MAH” show they are employing that political blunt force in their music too. Their isn’t a nuanced deep dive into the Brexit/Trump era, but rather just expressing their anger at the world now, best expressed by the line “I’m mad as hell, I ain't gonna take it no more,” in “MAH.”
The Chemical Brothers have six number one albums under their belt and there is no reason to believe this won’t be number seven. They have captured the current moment, while channeling their past into one great album.
Stream the full record below and pick up your copy here.