Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Chemical Brothers - Push the Button CD Review

The Chemical Brothers were one of the few techno groups to break into the US mainstream back in the mid to late 90’s. There would be days where you’d see the “Block Rockin’ Beats” video played on MTV a couple of times or more. Their songs have been used for numerous advertisements and promotional materials, while also finding themselves being played in clubs across the nation, so it’s not too much of a stretch to say that they’re one of the most successful techno artists in the states over the last 10 years.

Since the release of Planet Dust, through the successes of Dig Your Own Hole and Surrender, and throughout the underappreciated Come With Us, The Chemical Brothers have run through the techno gamut in the songs that they have created. After doing so many different things over their previous four releases, it would seem that Push the Button would probably follow one of two paths—a complete rehash of something that had previously done or a jump into a rather unexplored region. They chose the latter. Fans looking for another Dig Your Own Hole are, unfortunately, going to be disappointed by this, as their latest finds The Chemical Brothers branching out into a decidedly ambient direction. Don’t be fooled, however, into thinking that this is solely an ambient disc, as there are still plenty of danceable tracks to be found on here, two of the best being “Galvanize” and “Come Inside,” but the focus of this offering definitely lies in mellower and more experimental territory.

The quick, rapid-fire dance beats of their more well know songs are now harder to find and have been replaced throughout a portion of the disc by down-tempo, almost Moby-ish, ambient beats. Building off of these slower beats are songs that feel more laid back and free flowing than most of what they’ve done in the past. “Close Your Eyes,” for one, feels like a modern lullaby for club goers, and “Marvo Ging” comes across like it was made for the sole purpose of being attached to trendy television advertisements.

Besides trying their hand at mellowing out, The Chemical Brothers also try their hand at integrating some hip hop stylings, which you see take center stage on “Left Right,” which oddly sounds like it could have been placed on any one of the major current rap artist’s discs as opposed to this one. It feels out of place and should have probably been left on the cutting room floor.

Underneath all of these new influences, however, are still some of The Chemical Brothers’ trademark sounds. Listening to songs such as “Galvanize” easily clues the listener in to who they’re listening to and it’ll get you off your chair and moving in no time. It’s just too bad that there couldn’t have been a few more uptempo moments throughout this disc.

With the experimentation found on this disc, Push the Button feels a little loose and comes off far less tight as their past offerings, but it is still a relatively good, if eclectic, disc to listen to. This lack of focus may lead it to become one of The Chemical Brothers’ lesser known discs, but it is still a solid addition to their catalog and I’m sure we’ll all hear at least one of the songs in a movie or an advertisement within the next year or so.

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