Roni Size may have won the 1997 Mercury Music Prize, while Goldie's Timeless may be considered one of the decade's most innovative dance masterpieces, but for all its critical acclaim and unquestionable credibility, the '90s drum‘n'bass scene never really produced a breakout star in the same way that garage (Craig David), grime (Dizzee Rascal), or big beat (the Prodigy) managed to create. Apart from M-Beat's 1994 hit "Incredible," drum‘n'bass artists never really threatened the Top Ten, and by the end of the decade, the whole genre appeared to have retreated back into the underground where it came from. However, since Pendulum's 2005 debut, Hold Your Colour, the sound has witnessed a surprising renaissance, a development capitalized on more than anyone else by London duo Saul Milton and Will Kennard, aka Chase & Status, whose accessible blend of frenetic beats and pop hooks on debut album More Than Alot led to production duties on tracks for Rihanna and others, a far cry from their humble bedroom DJ beginnings. Their second album, No More Idols, ups the commercial ante even further, with a whole host of star-studded guest performances, both predictable (in-vogue MC Tinie Tempah on the ironically titled grimey "Hitz") to the downright unexpected (doom-laden post-punk trio White Lies on the atmospheric "Embrace"). While this concerted effort to conquer the mainstream may sit uncomfortably with the drum'n'bass purists, its genre-hopping anthemic nature has actually provided the scene's most consistent and inventive offering to date. Avoiding the repetition that plagues many dance albums, each of its 15 tracks is bursting with ideas, as evident on the opening three tracks: "No Problem," an invigorating fusion of fast-paced acid-rave synths and tribal African rhythms; "Fire in Your Eyes," which combines Lenny Kravitz-style guitar solos with emerging acoustic hip-hop artist Maverick Sabre's reggae-tinged vocals; and "Let You Go," a ferocious club banger whose sinister lyrics provide the best stalker anthem since the Police's "Every Breath You Take." Elsewhere, the duo tackles brooding trip-hop (the Clare Maguire-featuring "Midnight Caller"), blistering nu-metal (the manically intense "Hypest Hype"), and menacing dubstep (the Cee-Lo Green-fronted "Brixton Briefcase"), all of which creates a whirlwind of sound that constantly keeps the listener guessing. But it's Chase & Status' two huge Top Ten singles that provide the album's highlights. The melancholic guitars, pulsating breakbeats, and Plan B's understated reflective vocals on Harry Brown theme "End Credits" provide a cinematic backdrop to a hugely powerful account of a man's dying moments, while "Blind Faith" is an authentic old-skool rave-inspired anthem that somehow manages to make the ubiquitous sample of Loleatta Holloway's "Love Sensation" sound both fresh and beautifully uplifting. The rather aimless and derivative '90s drum'n'bass homage "Hocus Pocus" aside, No More Idols is a consistently impressive and intriguing listen that has the potential to be the drum‘n'bass genre's defining studio album.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien