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Album Review: The Chemical Brothers – Brotherhood

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The Chemical Brothers release a greatest hits album and somehow it encompasses not only many of their hits but essentially a journey into pop culture. From television commercials, movie soundtracks, guest appearances by music heavyweights, samples of nostalgic songs, tracks from those cool music videos you saw that one time, and hand picked favorites by the group, Brotherhood is a journey down memory lane for anyone who enjoys old classics with a few gems along the way.

Those familiar with the group composed of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons will know that even though their heyday of fame was way back in the carefree late 90s, the band’s latest efforts have been jam packed with great guests and still prove the old guys know what they are doing still and even won a Grammy for 2007’s We Are the Night.

The album starts off with “Galvanize”, a Grammy winning single and in 2005 was the song that launched Budweiser Select, so essentially anyone with a heartbeat and a television has heard this song. While overplayed, the track is still a strong track and features great guest work from Q-Tip. Segueing from a commercial hit to the older track “Hey Boy Hey Girl”, we get a reminder that The Chemical Brothers still know how to grab a sample and run with it. Of course, no greatest hits compilation would be complete without “Block Rocking Beats” showing up, and by being placed early on the album, listeners get to move on to newer pastures quickly.

While being hammered by certain festival hosting online music blogs, the duo still knows what is cool before many find out. “Believe” features Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke on vocals way back in 2005 when his band was still only on a blip on many music fan’s radar. “Star Guitar” and “Let Forever Be” are known for their conceptually amazing music videos directed by a pre-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Michel Gondry. Following the two “music video” tracks come “Leave Home,” which features Kraftwerk samples a full decade before Coldplay and others would make it status quo. Anyone notice the trend of the Chemical Brothers being ahead of the time on some things? Even the only new track on the album, “Keep My Composure” features underground favourite Spank Rock, so this might be the time to hype up anything they have done.

The end portion of the album features the more notable guest appearances. “Out Of Control” has vocals and guitar by Bernard Sumner of New Order. “The Golden Path” is off their previous singles collection and features The Flaming Lips. “Setting Sun” features Noel Gallagher. All from different genres, these guest appearances continue the trend of The Chemical Brothers being a group people want to work with. Can you blame them? The duo, to this day, remains one of the most successful electronic groups of this generation.

The second disc of the album features all ten parts of the Electronic Battle Weapon series that the group have been working on for years. Primarily a series of promotional songs used at clubs to test the tracks, many of these tracks have been released previously on the albums with titles. One example of this is “Saturate” which is on the first disc as well. The song is a standout instrumental and was one of the highlights of 2007’s We Are the Night

Overall, for anyone wanting to get more into electronic music, Brotherhood is a great primer and warm up to the bigger and better things from The Chemical Brothers. The first disc is the best overall view of The Chemical Brothers so far to date. It features the hits from their entire career while highlighting some of the new stuff as well as featuring a great new track, “Keep My Composure”. The second disc is more for the long time fans who have wanted the entire Electronic Battle Weapon series on one disc for awhile.

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