The UK has a history of outstanding dance music and, from drum ‘n’ bass and big beat through to dubstep, we’ve produced some outstanding LPs in the last couple of decades. The best records have been ones that haven’t even tried to grab the attention of the mainstream; The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim did not get popular by attempting to make a hit record.
Sadly, it seems like more of today’s artists are too busy trying to make a quick buck rather than create something of substance. For example, Pendulum have become nothing more than slaves to the Radio 1 daytime playlist and Magnetic Man‘s attempt to bring dubstep into the mainstream had mixed results. Now, you can add Chase & Status to the list.
No More Idols is their second release and is an attempt at drum ‘n’ bass with pop sensibilities. The list of guest stars very heavily hints at where Chase & Status’ ambitions lie. Chart-toppers such as Plan B, Dizzee Rascal, Cee Lo Green and, somewhat bizarrely, White Lies all contribute their talents.
It’s the guest stars that are of most interest on this record, given that so much of the music is formulaic and lifeless. There are some attempts to bring in acoustic layers and even bits of dubstep into the mix, but nothing here makes you want to go crazy in a club.
The lack of a party starter of any sort is the primary problem. Let You Go and Blind Faith should be energetic and full of character, but instead it’s the kind of stuff that takes you further towards the bar than to the dancefloor. There are certainly beats, but without anything tangible in the way of a memorable hook or solid bassline they are wasted.
But enough about the music and back to the guest stars, whose success rates vary. Dizzee Rascal provides the best vocals on Heavy; he’s on form as he spits out rhymes at great speed. Cee Lo Green doesn’t have his best moment on Brixton Briefcase – the tune doesn’t suit him at all – but on occasion he will showcase his incredible vocal ability. The other big-hitters such as Plan B and Tinie Tempah don’t really offer anything remarkable. White Lies’ turn on Embrace sounds a bit too much like a White Lies b-side for it to be noteworthy. Then there’s Clare Maguire on Midnight Caller, showcasing why employing X-Factor style singing on actual records is doomed to fail.
Once you’ve heard No More Idols once, you’ll be finished with it. With a lack of tunes to come back for, maybe it would have become a better record if they weren’t so focused on stardom and the charts. But if you can’t make a dance record that gets people to dance in the first place, then it has failed in its objectives, whatever they were to begin with.