Review Summary: Groove Armada do their hardest to alienate their fan base yet again, and this time they employ a 'time warp' to help them out
For a brief time Groove Armada were one of the most exciting acts in the world of House and Chillout music. Seminal tracks such as 'At The River', and 'I See You Baby' still command airplay and attention in equal measures, and both deservedly as well. Andy Cato and Tom Findlay were able to deliver their quirky take on the genre to the masses, and almost seamlessly became a household name overnight. Without sounding watered down or contrived they custom tailored their sound for a mass audience, and for awhile it worked. Sadly though, with every subsequent release the boys added more and more layers to their already fulled to the brim sound. Throwing in allusions to Disco, R&B and Funk, they managed to alienate their original fan base, fans striving for a return to the days of Vertigo
. With diminishing returns on every new release, 2 anthology collections released to lackluster sales and acclaim Groove Armada took the only route they knew with this album: cue reinvention number 3.
is nostalgia, pure and simple. Throwing away the big beat stylings and dance funk tendencies prevalent in their earlier works, what's given to us this time is a tribute to the 80's. Replete with synth pop melodies and electromagnetic qualities, this isn't an album designed to move and rock you, instead it lulls you into a hypnotic trance, and rolls over you in waves of euphoria. Every song on offer has been designed to soothe and relax, to almost raise the hairs on the back of your neck as opposed to making you tap your feet. It's immaculately structured, with each song accompanying and complimenting each other remarkably well. Most dance albums come across as being assembled and put together too quickly with no thought to structure, with an abundance of filler clinging on for dear life to the ear grabbing 2-3 singles on offer, and let's be honest here; Groove Armada have been guilty of this for a long time now. But Black Light
is different, it's assembled perfectly and executed just as well. While there isn't a major peak to climb while listening the album moves along as if it has a sense of purpose, pushing you forward to it's inevitable outcome.
The boys walk a fine line with this album though, with many songs on offer almost veering into indie territory. Even long term fans will find their patience tested while listening to tracks such as 'Paper Romance' and 'I Won't Kneel'. We're not treated to traditional Groove Armada tracks, with vocals added on almost as an afterthought, these are fully fledged songs that almost sound as if they were specifically designed with the artists in mind. And that's one of the problems here, there's just an overabundance of vocals present, and an over reliance on synth that serves as really the only accompaniment to the guest vocalists. There just isn't a traditional GA song, every song permeates with the feel and flavor of someone else It almost feels that Armada, upon running out of ideas have just relied on the high profile nature of their guest vocalists to see them through. Nick Littlemore and Saint Savior make four appearances, while Will Young, Bryan Ferry, Fenech Soler and Jess Larrabee make up the rest. That's every track covered, and that's the big problem here; Groove Armada just don't seem to have an original thought for themselves anymore.
is an interesting endeavor to observe, at times it will move you into a quiet and relaxing little place, at other times it just can't be taken seriously, or trusted. While every song is executed and utilized to the best of it's ability the overall product comes off as nervous, unsure of what to be and what to do. Every song trundles along at an idyllic pace but they all ultimately lead nowhere, and you're left with nothing as a result. If you're a long term fan you'll either love this or hate it, sadly there's no middle ground to be found. And really that's what is needed here, a firm solid ground for Groove Armada to establish themselves again. Because this isn't it.