The Chemical Brothers have long been considered among electronica’s elite, alongside the likes of Fatboy Slim, Moby, the Prodigy, and the Crystal Method. But more than any of those other artists, the Chemical Brothers have managed to change their style throughout the last decade, surviving the big-beat boom of the mid-’90s before moving on to Grammy accolades. On We Are the Night, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons pull out all their tricks, delivering an album of euphoric psychedelic electronica, quirky guest appearances, and danceable grooves.
One thing is still true: the Chemical Brothers create some of the most original dance music out there. We Are the Night is evidence that they have not lost their edge. In fact, they seem to have gotten their groove back — there are plenty of body-rocking club joints here. “Saturate” stands out among the high-energy cuts, the most probably underground hit on the album: Filtered bass is surrounded by spastic drums that build into a delightful crescendo. Electro-tinged grooves permeate the percussion-laden “A Modern Midnight Conversation” and the “Sexyback”-flavored “Do It Again,” featuring Ali Love.
But the Chemical Brothers have always been about sonic experimentation, and there is plenty of that here. The tracks that leave the biggest impact are those that combine down-tempo electronica with psychedelic folk rock. “The Pills Won’t Help You Know,” featuring Midlake, is a gorgeous number that rides a solid snare drum over waves of building strings and electronic pulses. Similarly, closer “Battle Scars” with Willy Mason offers up a slightly rock edge amidst all the electronic bleeps. The Pharcyde’s Fatlip turns up on the nu-skool breaks of “The Salmon Dance,” a light track with more sense of humor than anything else on the album.
The Chemical Brothers, a group that rode the initial wave of electronica success more than a decade ago, continue to make quality music. We Are the Night proves that innovation and experimentation is alive within the genre.