The Antidote is not at all what I expected. Morcheeba is known for producing rather solemn down-tempo tracks, but that has changed. With their fifth album, brothers Paul and Ross Godfrey have completely changed their style, reinventing themselves and stretching beyond their electronica roots. Armed with a new vocalist Daisy Martey (who replaces the distinctive Skye Edwards), their new sound has more in common with Jefferson Airplane than it does with Portishead. The drastic change had me scratching my head, but despite all the rearranging, The Antidote is a remarkably refreshing album that revives a sound that has largely disappeared from contemporary music.
While the loss of Edwards put the band's future in doubt, Martey has taken the band in a new direction. She channels Grace Slick with her rough and soulful tones, singing with a striking amount of confidence and command. Her vocals drive the album through its seamless ten tracks, completely selling the late-1960s-influenced sound on tracks such as opener "Wonders Never Cease."
Morcheeba is able to achieve success thanks to perfectly produced tracks such as the enchanting "People Carrier" that evoke the free-love vibe of the hippie era and through the strong presence of their singer whose lyrics speak of the power of freedom. Most of the tracks are decidedly upbeat romps with excellent songwriting and well-chosen instrumentation, with standouts including the pop perfection of "Lighten Up" and the blissful "A Military Coup." Tambourines and whimsical flutes punctuate many of the tracks, with modern effects added to remind us that this isn't actually a record produced in 1967.
But what is really interesting about this record is that it even goes the direction that it does. Where many electronica artists choose to mine vintage soul and hip-hop, very few have looked to 1960s folk-rock and guitar-driven anthems for inspiration. The results are quite astounding - if unexpected - and the change is definitely welcome.
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