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A mixed bag
on 19 April 2012
When Orbital bowed out with the "Blue Album" I felt their best years were behind them, that album featuring only two tracks I really loved (the first and last tracks), and its predecessor being frankly rather dire when compared to their previous albums. Upon their return to touring a year or so ago I thought an album was probably on the cards and now we have "Wonky".
A look at the booklet reveals that the tracks were almost all written by Paul Hartnoll, so in some respects this is something of a solo album albeit with Phil performing and producing alongside him. It starts fantastically well with "One Big Moment" and "Straight Sun", two tracks I immediately loved, and their sound is familiar but a little more mature. There's a bit of a lull with "Never" before the tremendous "New France" begins, but then the album loses its way a little for me, and the tracks are merely okay rather than great, the title track actually being rather awful and I doubt I'll listen to that one again. The much heralded "Beelzedub" is a remake of their own "Satan" played in a dubstep / drum & bass style, but for me it didn't really work. The album ends with the pleasant if unremarkable "Where Is It Going?" which features flashes of some of their previous songs (I heard echoes of "Impact" and "Belfast") and fifty minutes after it began the album ends.
There's nothing here that I'd list among their best work, and if I had to rank their albums I'd place it mid-table ("Snivilization" at the top). Not bad, but far from their best. Still good to have them back.