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Published on May 20th, 2019 | by voxx

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The Chemical Brothers – No Geography

There’s little time for despair as the duo launch their state-of-the-planet address…

The cold robotic voice that opens No Geography makes it clear that The Chemical Brothers’ ninth album is not going to be a matter of uncomplicated euphoria. Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons have always dissolved boundaries. Britpop or hip-hop, indie-kid or curious pre-EDM American, The Chemical Brothers gathered them together. The togetherness orchestrated by No Geography, however, is driven by a different beat.

The mood is set by immense opener ‘Eve Of Destruction’, its techno-plated form hovering over the whole record like a sky-blotting alien craft. If The Chemical Brothers’ music has rarely been associated with geopolitical analysis, here they engage with a fast-unravelling world. ‘The Universe Sent Me’ sounds like a galactic implosion, the words “I cave in” repeated glassily over starburst synths. But the duo have little time for despair. No Geography is audaciously balanced between fight and escapist flight. ‘MAH’ is a raging protest blast, while the lava-lamp disco of ‘Got To Keep On’ mixes brimming commitment to life and a cold, hard reminder of the deathly world outside: “And the rain comes down like tears.” ‘We’ve Got To Try’, similarly, steel-caps a soulful swoon with block-rocking beats, an attempt to turn tender human emotions into something indestructible.

It’s a decent plan on a record where the Brothers really do try to work it all out. The title track, for instance, promises free-moving unity – “Him and her and them too/And you and me too” – over woozy utopian synths. After nearly a quarter of a century, Simons and Rowlands are making music that has the dizzying plasticity of their best work. The eve of destruction might beckon, but No Geography is a formidable creation, a place where people really are in it together.

- By Jake White


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