Sunday, 8 May 2016

Recommended music: 'Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future' by Underworld

It's been a while since I've bought an Underworld album, so I'm not really sure if this sounds like an Underworld album should. In fact, since I first heard lead single 'I Exhale' that one's always reminded me of The Fall. It's not particularly representative of the rest of the album, but it does serve as a stomping great opener that knocks your head around a bit ready for the rest of the record.

And what a record it is. Second track 'If Rah' is a squelchy electronic beast that updates Born Slippy's hedonistic 'lager lager lager' refrain to a much more clean-living 'lunar lunar lunar'. It's a stream of consciousness that's up there with their best work.

Following it up is the faster, mantra-like 'Low Burn', which features snatches of singing between the repeated spoken vocals. It's a proper head-nodder of a tune that will have you grinning as you bounce around.

By track 4, 'Santiago Cuatro', they're really moving us into new territory. A beautifully played guitar calls to mind Arabic melodies while snatches of radio interference disrupt the gentle evening mood. The track somehow brings to mind a journey, a trip that ends sitting round a Bedouin campfire, an hallucinogenic drug purging ritual, a tribe on the brink of extinction.

'Motorhome' is next, a hypnotic, melodic drifter which (whisper it) features proper singing and some brilliantly random elecronics. I especially like the bit where it almost, but not quite, turns into 'Baba O'Riley' by The Who.

Nearly at the end, penultimate track 'Ova Nova' is a vocoder-vocalled  that's got an uplifting tune and words to match. It's certainly one of the happiest tracks I've heard them make, perhaps reflecting their mental states and the fat that both of them have (grown-up) children singing backing vocals on this album).

Finally, 'Nylon Strung' closes the record out with more happy vibes - "I wanna hold you, laughing" go the lyrics, another  pointer to what a good place they're in.

Overall then this is a really great record, one of my favourites of 2016 so far. I'm just hoping that the scheduling works out OK at Glastonbury so I can see both Underworld and LCD Soundsystem!

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