The Chemical Brothers

We Are the Night

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The Chemical Brothers never stopped being great producers, but during some of their ho-hum full-lengths of the early 2000s, they relied too much on production skills and forgot what they were first known for: innovative sounds and great hooks. (It's hard to deny that their comparatively sleek psychedelic house was a far cry from the big-beat bombast and excitement of their first two LPs.) Unfortunately, We Are the Night is no departure, although it does reveal Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons showing some build-to-suit character instead of angling for the straitjacket-tight and over-serious dance music of their past ten years. The first half of the record, including the single "Do It Again" (unconsciously ironic title?), is no better nor worse than most of what the Chemical Brothers produced between 1998 and 2007, but beginning with a diverting little electro noodling called "Das Spiegel," it becomes clear that there's a little more going on here. Hip-hop's favorite toker, Fatlip, stops by to relate an odd tale about fish ("The Salmon Dance"), "A Modern Midnight Conversation" dabbles in Italo-disco (but gets most of its flavor from a sample), and the duo stretch out (slightly) for the creepy four-four crawl "Battle Scars" with neo-folkie Willy Mason. The Chemical Brothers have occasionally shrouded their more interesting productions until the second half of their LPs, but something else is obviously needed.

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