Album Reviews

The Chemical Brothers – Singles 93-03

(Virgin) UK release date: 22 September 2003


Yes, 10 years of The Chemical Brothers have passed; 10 years of a creatively-juiced duo chipping away at the side of mainstream, creating genre-crossing, downright exciting music for all and sundry to shake their ass to.

This album is a delicious reminder of how The Chemical Brothers have shaken the dance world with bomb-blasting beats, exhilarating riffs and samples. Song To The Siren was one of the first tracks recorded in The Dust Brothers‘ (as they were then) makeshift bedroom studio, thus giving it the position of first track on this album. The song is relatively simple and easily recognisable as their earlier work, but it also hints at the Chemical Brothers strengths that are so prominent in their later work.

If track three, Leave Home, were a person, it would be wearing a swish suit, dark sunglasses, and would be strutting down the street with a sharpness that could cut the air. The song is built around a sample that reassures the listener that “the Brothers gonna work it out”. Laced around this sample are bass riffs so heavy that they threaten to fall through the floor.

Setting Sun swaps sampled for proper vocals, which come courtesy of rock icon, Noel Gallagher. His Mancunian idiolect is just the ticket for the brawling, loutish nature of the song.

Track 5 is that song, Block Rockin’ Beats, a song that shook the dance and pop world upon its release, with its cool as ice bass line, and bone-crunchingly huge beat.

The Private Psychedelic Reel is the longest track on the album, standing at just over nine minutes, and it does exactly what is says on the tin. What’s exciting about this track is it shows how the duo can take one element and bring it in and out of a song, whilst throwing other sounds into the melting pot.

Let Forever Be is another piece of ingenuity, no less. Again featuring Noel Gallagher on vocal duty, (he obviously enjoyed Setting Sun), the drums are huge and you will find yourself replicating them on your desk, lap, or whatever you can unleash your attempt on. The swirling bass and synth top it all off perfectly. Brilliant.

The album closes with a treat – two new tracks in Get Yourself High and The Golden Path. The former again goes into new territory, as they invite Canadian rapper K-OS to MC over their creation. The latter tracl, a collaboration with The Flaming Lips, goes back to the early electronica found in the ’80s. The song is more about chords, and the accompanying synth and vocal texture, that provide a wishy-washy consistency of beauty.

So what next? When bands release “Best Of” collections, it’s often to mark the end of a career. The title of the final track, The Golden Path, certainly seems to carry a subtle heir of finality. But is it really all over for The Chems? Or, is this just a release to tide fans over whilst the duo are busy coming up with new infusions of sound to infiltrate the dance world?

Whatever the future holds, with their genre-defying dance anthems, and the quirky reactions they’ve had from the closed-minded, The Chemical Brothers have been music’s equivalent of cross-dressers. In this particular case, that’s no bad thing at all.


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