Chase and Status’ 2011 release No More Idols may have attracted controversy and divided opinion among fans and critics alike, yet it still enjoyed great commercial success and was hailed by many as a brilliant album and an asset to the world of electronic music.
Brand New Machine, then, has a lot to live up to, and I for one was interested to see if an act who has achieved dizzying heights of fame and success would take a more mainstream direction or attempt to cling onto their dwindling fanbase among the more dedicated underground music followers.
It’s fair to say that No More Idols is varied, featuring examples of a number of different genres. A prominent theme is the prevalence of hip-hop, or more accurately trip-hop, the presence of which is reinforced by collaborations with artists such as Pusha T in ‘Machine Gun’.
The hip-hop influence is made clear from the start with the dark opening track ‘Gun Metal Grey’, which kicks off proceedings with a heavy and sinister offering. It is clear that the duo are taking a different musical direction to their previous album, and in this track at least, it appears to be a change for the better.
Drum and bass beats are combined with reggae in the fast paced and exciting ‘International’, a track that shows more correlation with their previous work than most others on the album. ‘Count on Me’, the second single to be released, features soul singer Moko, and is a less-than-subtle throwback to 90s dance and rave culture. A bold move, perhaps, but it is nevertheless a great tune.
Another stand-out track is the album’s closer, ‘Alive’ featuring Jacob Banks, a Rudimental-esque blend of soaring vocals and powerful beats that is sure to have entire arenas singing along in the near future.
This album then, is one of variety, if inconsistency is too strong a word. For every spine-tingling ‘Alive’, there is a dull and uninspiring ‘Machine Gun’. Clearly the electronic duo have experimented here, drawing on a wide variety of influences, and in doing so have provided us with a few promising hits, but equally have been unable to avoid throwing in a few misses.
The hip-hop theme is interesting, if a little overdone, and it is hard to ignore the fact that Chase and Status may well have produced a much better album had they focussed more heavily on the drum and bass /dance side of things. When Brand New Machine is good, it’s very good, but there are a fair few distinctly average moments too.
…Louis is listening to Arctic Monkeys – ‘Snap Out Of It’…