Come With Us

Chemical Brothers

Astralwerks Records, 2002

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Unlike many artists of the big beat, techno or electronica genre, the Chemical Brothers come off as more of an actual band as opposed to bass-obsessed DJ's who run amok on cutting-and-pasting their sounds onto a track. Like some of the best bands in rock, the Brothers thrive on dynamics. No wonder their seminal hit, "Block Rockin' Beats" has drawn comparisons to Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love."

And like good artists in any genre, the Chemical Brothers have usually placed a lot of faith in creating actual albums for listening experiences. Albums meaning that you would feel guilty for skipping a track, such as Nine Inch Nails's The Fragile. The Chemical Brothers latest album, Come With Us, does not stray from other Chemical Brothers albums. To a certain extent, it can be seen as the happy medium between Dig Your Own Hole and the psychedelic head-trip swirl of Surrender. It starts off strong by grabbing your belt loops and slamming you with the big beat blast of the title track. It then goes into "It Began In Afrika," a track that was "accidentally" leaked to house DJs last fall. It's silly, loud, obnoxious and obviously, a hard-to-forget track.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons keep things rolling with the head-nodding "Galaxy Bounce." Then, "Star Guitar" showcases how the evolution of The Chemical Brothers sound structures. It's a sophisticated track that has a tense, pulsating rhythm as a base but incorporates much more delicate elements, such as a choir-like chorus above the central beat.

And true to the form of many great album listening experiences, some of the best material is saved for the last tracks. However, this means that the middle of the album is saddled with some weaker tunes. In the song, "The State We're In," Beth Orton contributes her gorgeous vocals. The only problem is that the listener can't help but compare the track to the tracks where she sang on in Exit Planet Dust and Dig Your Own Hole. On "Where Do I Begin," Orton sang the chorus, "Where do I start/Where do I begin?" She was able to convey confusion, longing and a dazed-morning after charm to the track. It was one of the highlights on an album full of peaks. However, "The State We're In" does not have that same effect. It's a nice song and Orton's vocals fit in perfectly, but the magic is lacking.

The same can't be said for Richard Ashcroft. The former singer of The Verve contributes to the final track, "The Test." The Chemical Brothers have had more collaborations than Santana, and using Ashcroft put the Brothers in serious risk of turning this practice into a parody. However, "The Test" is a great, energetic track that serves as a great closer to Come With Us. The beautiful tracks "Denmark" and "Pioneer Skies" serve as a great setup for a closer and Ashcroft's vocals are enough to close the album on a high note.

Far from a landmark album, Come With Us is still worth buying and an essential buy for any Chemical Brothers fans. During a time when many record labels dump their weakest material on the consumer, Come With Us thankfully has enough roof-raising beats to last the year. The album also grows with repeated listens. Originally, I was going to give this album a B. However, many of the songs linger in the listener's mind, bringing them back to give Come With Us a second chance and third. Strap on some headphones and let it win you over.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2002 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Astralwerks Records, and is used for informational purposes only.