Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

‘Beaucoup Fish’

When Irvine Welsh inadvertently changed the face of dance music by plucking 'Born Slippy' from it's original obscurity, and dance-floors around Britain began to echo with shouts of "lager, lager, lager", Underworld became the techno standard that far too many people tried to copy. Fortunately, Underworld have had the foresight to abandon their original mocking title 'Tonight, Matthew, I'm Going To Be Underworld' in favour of ...well, in favour of, erm..., 'Beaucoup Fish'.

'Beaucoup Fish' starts off where Underworld last left us, bass heavy beats setting the rhythm, while near incomprehensible lyrics cycle over the top digging their way into your consciousness. However, two years can be a long time (unless you happen to be in My Bloody Valentine, then it’s merely a tea-break), and the likes of Air and Etienne de Crecy have not only ignored Underworld’s blueprint, they didn't even bother getting it translated into French in the first place, having set a trend for a more-sophisticated coffee table approach to dance music.

Accordingly, 'Beaucoup Fish’ “promises to distil the tried and tested Underworld sound into a streamlined power-house musical soup" (cheers, press release), which, despite sounding like an extract from a business plan submitted to the bank manager to get a loan, basically seems to mean that they now sound a bit like Daft Punk playing the Underworld back catalogue

Underworld appear to refer to their new checklist too often. Vaguely quirky intro - check; rapid repetitive beat and Mogadon induced mumbled vocal - check; song lasting just that bit too long - check; run out of ideas and fade song out - check. Where the formula works, the effects can be amazing, especially on the stand-out tracks 'Something Like A Mama', and 'Moaner', first heard on the latest Batman soundtrack, the former sashaying along in a blissful daze, and the latter a nasty, repulsive beast containing a venomous and bitterness rant directed at a single unnamed character and their boyfriend that would have Tricky hiding behind the sofa, a kind of Jekyll and (Karl) Hyde for the stilted generation.

Unfortunately, at least half of the album pales in significance when compared to these two tracks, and the final feeling is that even Underworld have fallen foul of the lack of innovation and imagination so prevalent in the current generic, ‘here's one I remixed earlier’ dance music scene that has allowed Fatboy Slim to be held up for reverence. Instead of returning with one fantastic EP, Underworld have opted to play it safe, and resorted to a Pete Waterman styled mass production approach to their music. Ultimately 'Beaucoup Fish' is series of nice touches, leading to a couple of flashes of true brilliance, but as Paul Gascoigne knows, that isn't always enough these days.