Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

For That Beautiful Feeling finds The Chemical Brothers on scintillating form

"For That Beautiful Feeling"

Release date: 08 September 2023
The Chemical Brothers For That Beautiful Feeling cover
08 September 2023, 08:00 Written by Chris Todd

As with most acts three decades and ten albums deep, seismic shifts into unknown musical territory are unlikely.

Tom Rowland and Ed Simons have generally stuck to the template they set with the slew of singles they created in the early nineties after meeting at Manchester club Mecca, The Hacienda, and the sounds on their 1995 long-playing debut, Exit Planet Dust.

The blueprint set with their first three albums: the follow-up to their debut, 1997’s Dig Your Own Hole with Surrender coming two years later, has been steadily followed with subtle stylistic tweaks to remain contemporary, with strong album drops every four years, 2010’s spectacular Further being a particular late-career high point.

Here, as on Further, and their previous album, No Geography, they play to their strengths by looking inward and removing the clutter of featured guests which really lets the music shine. Their previous albums did suffer somewhat under the weight of a featured artist and this is exemplified on "Skipping Like A Stone" featuring a slightly nondescript turn from Beck whose vocals get in the way of the beautiful backing track which sounds like an imaginary Chems remix of a lost My Bloody Valentine track, and let’s face it, when your collaborations are as flawless as their work with legendary rapper Q-Tip on "Galvanize" in 2004, or "The Golden Path" featuring the vocal of Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, a year earlier, there really is nowhere else to take the featured artist thing because you’ve produced two of the all-time best.

All the established Chemical Brothers tropes are here; the storming techno track, the dumb acid pounders, the bumping Hip-Hop cum electro hybrid, and even though we’re familiar with these moves now, their exemplary production values mean they can still fascinate and thrill. By cutting up the vocals of Halo Maud and using them as additional instrumentation, "Live Again" is a euphoric piece of shoegaze-inflected electronica and total peak-time Chems. Sampling the voice of underrated post-punk singer Adrian Borland (The Sound) and stitching slices of it onto the block-party beats of "No Reason" is inspired, while the fusion of soulful vocals, against abrasive synth lines and clattering beats on "Goodbye" is another one of their euphoric excursions into new wave psychedelia.

Elsewhere, sinister dubstep-influenced workouts ("Magic Wand") collide with shuffling nineties-tinged R&B replete with Nile Rodgers-esque guitar work ("Fountains"). The reworked version of 2021 single "The Darkness You Fear" puts Jungle in their place when it comes to sumptuous 70s soul vibes reworked to come alive in dark nightclubs, and in "Feels Like I Am Dreaming" we have them revisiting the slow build into grinding techno they so masterfully excel in, the massive breakdown at the midpoint is purpose-built to get those rave uncles partying like it's 1995.

Of all the nineties electronic acts that reached out beyond the underground to achieve mainstream success; The Prodigy, Leftfield, Orbital, Fatboy Slim etc, looking back at each body of work, only Underworld have truly kept up with the consistency of The Chemical Brothers, and with the scintillating form shown on For That Beautiful Feeling, it’s going to take something really spectacular to catch up.

Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next