Talk about a band that brings back fond memories! UNDERWORLD were supposed to take dance/trance/techno into the mainstream along with THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, PRODIGY and all the rest. If the Chems were techno hip hop, and Prodigy were techno punk, then Underworld were the purest form of dance music to hit the mainstream. Aided by their ubiquitous presence in "Trainspotting" and the subsequent American love affair with house and techno culture, the band seemed poised to hit the pop mainstream with "Born Slippy NUXX". However, the releases that followed were not well received commercially, mostly due to the fact that pop radio couldn't justify seven minutes of air time each time a song was played. Like the others, Underworld slunk back into the clubs and started churning out interesting and creatively challenging music for the next decade.
So I was a bit surprised at how much I like their latest record, "Barking". Maybe because it appears that they have finally merged their techno leanings with pop song structure. "Always Loved A Film" could have been recorded during NEW ORDER's "Technique" era. "Scribble" is a vintage drum and bass song that has that upbeat feel that when played in a club would send the place absolutely bananas. "Grace" is a classic Underworld song that seems like a left over from their debut record. The only drawback is the ending two tracks, "Louisiana" which has a slower tempo and sounds dangerously close to a ballad and the instrumental coda "Simple Peal" which is a bit of a downer. But I can certainly see the intent of bringing the audience done from a very high octane ride.
There is so much to like about this album that it begs several listens. Each song unfolds at just the right length and none overstay their welcome (which can often be an undoing of some dance bands). This is certainly find a way on to my end of the year bests.
(mp3) Underworld -- Scribble (link Removed by request)