Second Toughest in the Infants
came three years after Underworld's potent debut Dubnobasswithmyheadman
. Following the group's massive Trainspotting
soundtrack hit "Born Slippy", at first glance this offering seems to carry the same epic and elaborate edge of that huge hit.
Opening with an opulent triptych called "Juanita", "Kiteless" and "To Dream Of Love"--three tracks which segue seamlessly into each other and form a quite splendid 16-minute Underworld-a-thon--the trio certainly weren't afraid to indulge when making this LP. The next track, "Banstyle/Sappys Curry" seems to confirm this, weighing in at an impressive 15 minutes, though this time nose-diving into some atmospheric, oceanic drum & bass a la LTJ Bukem.
Throughout the rest of the album, Underworld alternate between assuaging their raging club beats with warm washes of sound and beatless splashes of colour, and offering more straight-up heavyweight club fodder. "Confusion the Waitress" carries a definite prog-rock feel in places, "Pearls Girl" takes a more breakbeat-fuelled route and is arguably one of the album's most thrilling moments, while tracks such as "Air Towel" are as insubstantial as their name suggests--flimsy, inconsequential "Detroitian" workouts lacking real punch. "Blueski" is a little better, straying as it does into an acoustic psychedelic roam while the final track "Stagger" is a similarly beatless meander, though more maudlin and electronic this time and featuring Hyde's best vocal performance of the album. Overall, there are some solid tracks here, but it's less sinewy and more indulgent feel make it not quite as essential as its predecessor. --Paul Sullivan
Out of print in the U.S.! Originally released in 1996, Second Toughest In The Infants includes the massive hit Pearls Girls and seven other tracks. Karl Hyde and Rick Smith came together in the early 80s in the Art-Rock/New Wave band Freur, who eventually morphed into Underworld in the latter part of the decade. By the early 90s, the duo had reinvented themselves as a modern Electronic outfit and achieved critical acclaim, worldwide success and became one of the most influential bands in clubland... all before the 90s came to a close. Underworld explored the fringes of Dub, Dance and Techno, creating a seamless, eclectic fusion of various Dance genres. JBO.