it is almost 10 years now since this album was first released and underworld have never bettered it - they've come close, yes, but none of their subsequent albums have quite had the consistency of their debut release - every single track here is superb.
furthermore the album hasn't dated at all - it still sounds fresh today, something borne out by the fact that so many of today’s leading djs are still playing cuts from this album in 2003: ‘cowgirl’ and ‘dark and long’ in particular.
the album starts with the wonderfully brooding ‘dark & long’ - nine minutes of hypnotic grooves with karl hydes now familiar surreal vocals over the top. after that we’re into the twelve minute epic that is ‘mmm skyscraper i love you’ - a downtempo masterpiece with the haunting refrain “30,000 feet above the earth, it’s a beautiful thing’, and it is indeed.
other highlights include the mellow, guitar based ‘tongue’, the wonderful ‘dirty epic’ with it’s tale of “phone sex” and “christ on crutches” which segues into the dancefloor killer ‘cowgirl’, the song that first brought underworld to everyone’s attention.
the closing tracks plough a more chilled vein – ‘river of bass’ is another hypnotic gem whilst ‘m.e.’ is a beautiful end to what is a seminal album.
if you’ve only heard last year’s somewhat disappointing ‘a hundred days off’ album then do yourself a favour and get this album to discover how underworld sound when they’re on top of their game.
electronica never sounded so good.