Review Summary: The soundtrack for your lazy afternoon instead of your action packed night out.
"Yikes!" That was indeed my initial impression of the new London Elektricity album. 2008's Syncopated City contained the best material the head chief of lauded drum and bass label Hospital Records had come up with in his - then - approximately 10 year career under the moniker. The balance between the straight up drum and bass anthems like "All Hell Is Breaking Loose" and more mellow pop tracks like "Just One Second" could appeal evenly to the club DJ and the home listener. Variety is the key to a great album and Syncopated City made a strong case for that theory.
Yikes! on the other hand seems to primarily concentrate on the more laid back side of the drum and bass spectrum, which is off-putting for people expecting the bangers London Elektricity proved he could craft so masterfully in the past. The only thing that comes close to becoming a club hit is the title track. It's the lengthiest track on here and it's a quasi nonstop frantic drum fest layered over one of the grooviest bass lines Mr. Colman has come up with. It's a prime example of why Hospital Records is regarded so highly in the modern (liquid) drum and bass scene. But as stated, the rest of the album is residing in more chilled out atmospheres.
The result however is that his tracks appear more as actual songs than they ever did on previous albums. It may be contradictory to the genre tag, but the drums and bass lines don't take a prominent place on the album - aside from a few notable exceptions (again, the title track). Instead, they provide the tracks with a very solid backbone and give the spotlight to the soothing melodies and - especially - the voice of Elsa Esmeralda. After seeing "Just One Second" become the most popular track from Syncopated City, Mr. Tony Colman has assigned her singing duties on a total of six tracks on Yikes!
Which is a two-sided coin, actually. On the one hand, London Elektricity has produced these tracks in function of her voice and the melodies really do complement incredible with her voice. Take the combo jazzy piano, dreamy synth and Elsa holding back on album opener "Elektricity Will Keep Me Warm", for example. Or "Meteorites", where she aims for the high tones and is backed by euphoric synthesizers straight from the trance classics from the 90's. On the other hand though, she's far from being a perfect singer. "Fault Lines" is actually sung pretty badly and out of tune and that performance is still way better than what she accomplishes on the horrendous electro pop tune "Round The World In A Day".
So the vocal tracks could be described as hit-or-miss. The instrumentals, however, are downright excellent. It's on these that London Elektricity can really showcase his production skills. Most of these are around six minutes and none become stale or boring, which is quite the feat as the typical drum and bass DJ usually mixes a new tune every two minutes to keep his audience interested. London Elektricity keeps his tracks varied enough though, always introducing new elements into the mix. His influences range from jazz and rock music to trance, but the end result is pure liquid gold. It may not be as immediate as his previous work, but Yikes! is a nice progression for a seasoned professional. For everyone who likes his drum and bass aggressive, mean and vile: stay away. Everyone else, enjoy the ride.