Stereo MC's

Double Bubble

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Apparently learning from their career-killing nine years between albums, British dance collective Stereo MC's' recent output could be described as prolific by their standards, with their fifth studio album, Double Bubble, appearing just a relatively short three years after 2005's Paradise. Their uplifting blend of P-Funk, house, rap, and soul may have been met with a wave of indifference by everybody but hardcore Hacienda revivalists since their belated return, but the Brit Award-winners' newfound work ethic appears to have instilled a creative streak which could soon change that situation. Released through their own Graffiti Recordings label, its 12 tracks still occasionally veer into the baggy disco territory of their early-'90s heyday, such as the jittery synth-led acid-house of opening track "Get on It" and the psychedelic rave of the Shamen-esque "City Lights," but thanks to teenage cohort Tic Toc's eclectic contemporary production, the majority of the album showcases a sense of invention sorely lacking since their comeback. "Gringo (Ragged and Ruthless)" is a glorious Bollywood-flavored call to arms just as enthralling as Basement Jaxx's ventures into Middle Eastern dancehall, "Show Your Light" is a funky fusion of jazzy piano chords, pulsing four-to-the-floor beats, and gospel-tinged vocals complete with a soaring string breakdown, while there are convincing stabs at laid-back Just Jack-esque acoustic hip-hop on "Coming Home," skittering drum‘n'bass on "Human," and Kasabian-style dance-rock on the booming basslines, Gregorian chanting, and indie-disco grooves of lead single "Black Gold." There are a few misfires, such as the plodding attempt to gatecrash the nu-synth scene on the confessional "Pictures" and the meandering video game electro of "The Here and Now," while Rob Birch's dissections of urban London life and forays into more political matters are undermined by the regular "yippee-yi-yay" lyrical nonsense. But although Double Bubble doesn't capture the zeitgeist in the same way that Connected did, it's still a promising return to form which, at the very least, gives them a fighting chance of regaining some of their momentum.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
blue highlight denotes track pick