Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Album Review: Underworld - Barking (4.5/5)

Britsh house duo Underworld release their eighth album, Barking, a striking clash of techno dance-pop, house and dub-step. It's very virbant and fresh; ultimately a riviting dance album pulled over some cool pop influences, I haven't listened to any of Underworld's previous work however telling from the comments on iTunes Barking is somewhat of a sellout to the mainstream, although unless you have been a fan since 1986 you probably won't care however critics seem to be enjoying it.

The album has a pretty invigorating start, the first three tracks share a time of 21 minutes between them. Kicking things off is "Bird 1," lined with a penetrating bass line and subtle synths throughout shadowing the haunting vocals, eventually turning up the synths and dance beats towards the end, adding in weird telephone ringing behind the techno-dance production. Great opener.

Following is "Always Loved a Film," which embarks on an even more startling dance-pop production--very trancy and enticing--shimmering with glossy progressive soundscapes. Lead single "Scribble" is the best of the three. It also has the most interesting and complex arrangement--loud static and distorted vocals ringing over an eclectic mash of pondering synths, eerie soundscapes, psychedelic harps and draining background noise. I''m loving this.

"Hamburg Hotel" is less invigorating--more an atmospheric clobber of synths and layers of dance-beats and distorted muttering in the background. It's actually pretty nice. "Grace" is another great track, laying on the bass lines, beats and surprisngly burst of melody pretty thick--it has a pretty cool radio-friendly sound; sounds like it could be a single soon. The thumping "Between Stars" rocks a kinetic bass line, layers of hollow soundscapes.

"Diamond Jigsaw" has a fantastic techo dance-pop production; drenched in synths and layeres of warm distorted vocals and beats, another one that sounds very radio friendly. "Moon In Water" slows thigns down, sporting a pacing line of beats and flicking percussion--it sounds awesome; opening with a recurring female vocal: "There's no way to cast is reflection." The album comes to a close with the subtle "Louisiana," angelic piano keys and soft vocals. It's lovely. Barking is a solid dance album, I like it a lot. It's funny that this is the second time this year I've really loved a full-on dance album (the first being Delphic's Acolyte) I don't remember being that interested last year.

Best: Scribble, Diamond Jigsaw, Always Loved a Film, Between Stars, Moon in Water, Louisiana

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