Two years after his best-of collection reminded everyone just how much he's influenced U.K. dance scene, Nick Bracegirdle, aka Chicane, returns with his fourth (fifth if you count 2003's unreleased Easy to Assemble) studio album, Giants. His innovative combination of euphoric trance, melodic chillout, and dreamy electronica is just as popular now as when he debuted it with the glorious "Offshore" 13 years ago. Indeed, Deadmau5's Random Album Title certainly owed more than a nod to Chicane's back catalog, while lead single "Poppiholla," a cleverly titled reworking of the ubiquitous Sigur Rós track, recently gave him only his third Top Ten hit. Its choppy synth sound is replicated here several times, such as on the sun-drenched opener "Barefoot" and the epic, seven-minute title track, but although Giants might not make any huge musical leaps forward, it's more than a just one-note album. "So Far Out to Sea" is a string-led '90s style drum'n'bass track featuring some interesting Björk-like vocals; the heavily vocodered "What Am I Doing Here" is reminiscent of Imogen Heap's minimal Hide and Seek, while "From Where I Stand" is a Calvin Harris-esque progressive house floor-filler. Having previously worked with unlikely dance artists Tom Jones, Bryan Adams, and Clannad's Maire Brennan, the guest spots on Giants are disappointingly less surprising. Soul singer Lemar lends his vocals to the "What Am I Doing Here" reprise, Owl City's Adam Young appears on the huge piano-riff-laden "Middle Distance Runner," while Gary Numan's "Cars," already used on Armand Van Helden's Flowers, is an uninspired sample on "Hiding All the Stars." The best track, and perhaps album's most commercial offering, "Come Back," contains a less predictable vocalist in the shape of '80s blue-eyed soul singer Paul Young. Giants occasionally feels like a retread of Chicane's former Far from the Maddening Crowds glory days, but despite its lack of invention, it's still a well-produced and classy collection of songs that are destined to soundtrack Ibiza sunrises for many summers to come.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien