Chemical Brothers – Push The Button

The big UK dance acts of the ’90s are fading. Underworld’s last album was their weakest yet. Massive Attack’s last two (including Danny The Dog) are pretty poor. The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim are of almost zero interest now. Orbital have gone. I think it’ll be no bad thing if there are fewer Big Acts to grab the focus, to allow so many people to ignore everything not made by a Big Act. I guess this is why my expectations of and even hopes for the new Chemical Brothers album were extremely low.

There’s no obvious huge hit on this – no ‘Block Rocking Beats’, no megastar collaborations, though there are more than enough guests, some good (Q-Tip), some not (Tim Burgess), most pretty much unknown to me. This guests thing seems to make them lean towards songs, and I don’t think it’s their strong suit. Even then, taking the vocal out would improve more tracks than it would harm – this is true of tracks two to four, for instance.

They are still tremendous producers. They can still produce dynamite beats, big and funky and potent. They can still produce some lovely music as well – Hold Tight London is gorgeous, despite the unnecessary vocals. This album has its missteps – ‘Close Your Eyes’, with the Magic Numbers, is pretty bad – but most of it is good, and a few tracks are excellent (I particularly like the closer, ‘Surface To Air’). It’s not their finest moment, but it’s a great deal better than I had anticipated.