The Chemical Brothers
Their best album yet, Surrender marks the end of this decade and century with a homage to electronic music and on the same token affirms its explosion as the official music of the 21st Century.
After the boring funk of Dig Your Own Hole, which only had its two singles: "Setting Sun", glowing from the success of the Trainspotting soundtrack and the Prodigian "Block Rockin' Beats", The Chemical Brothers celebrate techno on their most successful album, a notch well above the recent releases of their respective challengers The Prodigy, Orbital, Underworld, and Moby.
Surrender is a homage to electronic music in all its forms, from primitive pioneers like Kraftwerk and their baroque and twisted sounds, moving on to Acid, Trance, House to the rock techno hybrids of the moment, everything is obviously supported by the Chemical Beats, basses, and rhythms emblematic of the group. The presence of well chosen guests reinforces this notion of a homage. On one hand the group thanks the musical movements that have influenced them by inviting those that symbolize it: Bernard Summer of New Order & Joy Division for the melancholy New Wave music that so characterizes them, Noel Gallagher of Oasis for English pop descended from the Beatles, Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star for her Velvet Underground heritage and Jonathan Donahue of Mercury Rev for a noisy layer.
Of course, beyond a superficial wink The Chemical Brothers pay their respects to the visionaries of this decade. While New Order was one of the first groups to embark on the electronic for a techno-pop mutation, Noel Gallagher is one of the first typically rock musicians to understand that the music revolution is now passing through a computer. As for Hope Sandoval, she represents this new wave of lyrical folk chanteuses who lend their voices to beats and samples, becoming hypnotic sirens for a bewitching unequaled by instruments of traditional music.
Surrender debuts with "Music: Response", a wink to the beginnings of techno-pop, with it’s refreshing Kraftwerkian melody. "Out of Control" is a collaboration reminiscent of "Life is Sweet", Bernard Summer taking the place of the Charlatans’ singer for a piece that sounds as if it were whispered at mid tempo. "Let Forever Be" welcomes Noel Gallagher on a Beatlesque tune whose harmonies sound very close to the Liverpool 4’s "Tomorrow Never Knows", offering a moment of pure pop (a piece the Beatles could have written if they had only had a computer) contrary to the resonant jumble of "Setting Sun". If "The Sunshine Underground" is made of ether, it’s only to better announce the ballad "Asleep From Day", a haunting plea to the iced beauty brought by Hope Sandoval. Obviously, the single "Hey Boy Hey Girl", as radical as the debut of Daft Punk, imposes its inalienable frenzy, making fun of but also saluting the unbearable DJs that were the catalysts of the techno explosion. As for the rest, pure adrenaline moments and 100% pure techno, just as we had hoped.
Beyond the quality of the album, Surrender warns the listener, as well as the coming century, that they must give themselves up to the tones of this new technological music.