Top positive review
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3rd epic from Underworld, 3rd slice of quality ...
on 8 October 2003
Don't be put off by the reviews before this! This is a good Underworld album. In fact, its a very good Underworld album. What it isn't is a natural progression from the dark electronic mood of Second Toughest In The Infants. This is where Underworld excel, they evolve their sound, move with the times, sure they could churn out Underworld-by-numbers tracks to keep the masses happy but wheres the fun in that? Its the difference between Underworld being the Oasis of the dance world, or the Radiohead of the dance world. Experimentation.
Cups opens up the album, with its Todd Terry-esque New York House beats, soulful bluesy vocals from Karl and deep hypnotic bassline. Its one of the best Underworld tracks you can get, gently building over the 10 minute track. Towards the end, the tempo rises and harsh synths and breakbeats lead you into Push Upstairs, a bangy techno track with short stabbing pianos. Jumbo is the next track up, absolutely sublime. Light in mood, Karl sings gently over the top. The bassline bounces along and the way the track fades away leaving extatic twinkling synths at the end is fooking class. Shudder/King Of Snake fires back into storming techno mode, a twisted techdisco number with Donna Summer's I Feel Love bassline used to great effect. Winjer and Skym see Underworld take a more chilled, melancholic stance, similar to something like Stagger from Second Toughest. Bruce Lee is a catchy little number, more indie-ish in nature, funky little guitar stabs with Karl rambling over the top in his usual style. Kittens heads back to dancefloor material, military drums pounding away. A track that builds and builds and builds. Captures the feel of 'Live' Underworld. Push Downstairs takes the vocals from the Upstairs version and sticks them over a chilled Winjer/Skym style backing, a nice take and an interesting way of portraying two ways a track can be done. Something Like A Mama marries frantic breaks with a simple guitar loop and chilled synth pads, pacey yet relaxing and deep at the same time. Moaner (from the Batman & Robin) movie finishes the album off. Pure and simple techno, nasty harsh twisted acid lines, thunderous beats and Karl chanting "shes on the phone again, shes calling from America, shes calling from America" ... a real moaner! A nice gentle breakdown with twinkling bells provides a good contrast in the track.
So, perhaps not as coherant in style as Second Toughest ... perhaps due to the imminent parting of ways that Underworld were to have. Still, from my perspective, no drop in quality. Tracks like Cups, Jumbo, King Of Snake, Kittens really shine out. Also, this album featured some top remix packages, do try and search out the Cups and Bruce Lee mixes ... some of the best you'll hear. NOT quite as good as Second Toughest but not the absolute drop in quality that the picture has been painted on these reviews so far.