Review Summary: Brothers gonna work it out...kinda
With the amount of success and fame they have achieved in their 15 year career, it would seem surprising that both Chemical Brothers (Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons) reside behind the turntables and let a revolving cast of guest spots voice their music. You can hear one of their tunes just about anywhere, dance floors that shoot green lasers, alternative radio late at night, and even Budweiser commercials. What this makes clear is the versatility and the creative expenditure that the band has come to embrace. We Are the Night
works as a sum of this equation; adding on rappers, singers, (block) rockin' beats, and smooth synthesized tunes to make a complete album. However, this also works against the band as some of the songs (especially near the end) turn out in some cases bland, and in one case horrible and cheesy.
First songs from Chemical Brothers albums are more critical than you think; not only does it set the tone for the rest of the record, but it usually turns into the landmark song for that point in time ("Block Rockin Beats" for Dig Your Own Hole
, "Galvanize" for Push the Button
et all). Though "No Path To Follow" passes by as a slim and formless introduction that sounds like digital breathing with the title of the track being repeated throughout, there is some salvation found in the following title track. Loud digital humming and a bunch of fun effects are tailed by a sped up bass line, mix in a repeating drum line and you have the first sweet song of the record. "We Are The Night" isn't the perfect album opener, but it does its job by providing the listener with a song that is heavy in repetitions and very long. What comes with this is a rhythmic pulse that meshes with the song, groove, and a somewhat creepy and a nighttime mixer is born. Another good feature about this record is how some of the many collaborations came out, "Do It Again" was released as the lead single and the song makes it obvious why. A big beat and deeply voiced (to the tune of "do it again" many times) verses are let to run around, but only exist to counter the higher voiced Ali Love as he spouts lines about fun and bubble gum. The song does a good job of balancing out both equations of pop singing and big beat electronica to create a decent single.
The beats on here are catchy and the songs are fun, so why is this a 2.5? One of the main problems with We Are the Night
which seems to present itself over and over again is the length of the album. Only three of the record's twelve songs clock in at under four and a half minutes. One of them is the previously mentioned "No Path to Follow", which is basically just a lead-in to the title track. Another is a collaboration featuring former Pharcyde
MC Fatlip. It would seem that this would follow up Q-Tip's standout contribution to Push the Button
, but instead listeners are treated to a song they wish could be hidden in the pile of this album. It doesn't seem so bad in the beginning, the musical section laid down doesn't seem too high energy or fast paced, but it can work.
Oh...there's a partner named Sammy the Salmon...who says "what it do".
At this point the listener can only hope for the best and hope this track reverts to something else. Right as this thought crosses, the song trips down the slope of its own design. Its horribly cheesy, it under utilizes Fatlips's abilities as an MC, and after a couple verses of this you'll wish its over. But it doesn't end until a seemingly too long 3:40, 3:30 of which could have been used to cover "My Humps" and it wouldn't have been nearly as bad. From here the album seems to lose steam, like Sammy the Salmon knocked the wind out of the record and it was never able to recover. "Burst Generator" sounds like retro Chemical Brothers, but follows the lead and goes on for far too long.
We Are the Night
is a highly ambitious record that attempts to deli ever to its fans with a lot of style and variety. Somewhere along there however, making a quality record got mixed up with making one with a lot of variety. What is the end result is a record that runs quite average, there are some quality songs that can be picked from it ("We Are the Night". "Do it Again", "All Rights Reserved") but by itself it will lose many listeners.