Though I don't like to be seen to be going with trends, the Chem's fourth album is, like many people warned, a bit of a disappointment. After the promise of last single "Star Guitar" I was hoping "Come With Us" would be a promising start to a new year of music. Sadly, you won't find anything better than "Star Guitar" here.
It does get off to a blistering start though, the epic title track, with its warning of "Behold, they're coming back" ushering the brothers in more as gods as opposed to the funny looking fellas they really are. Unfortunately its followed by the Chemical-Brothers-by-numbers "It Began In Afrika". Ed recently defended this track in the NME by bragging about it being really big in Ibiza. Fair enough, but thats not something to be particularly proud of in my book.
Things pick up again with the jaunty (theres a word seldom used in dance reviews) "Galaxy Bounce", the last single and the trippy "Hoops". In fact the first half of "Come With Us" is on a par with any of the previous albums. But its when I hear "The State We're In" my enthusiasm begins to wane. I'm not a fan of Beth Orton anyway, but this is half a song at best. The knackered folk singer singing about coming down works great on "Where Do I Begin", but "The State We're In" is dull, dull, dull.
And then its sort of downhill all the way "Pioneer Skies" is okay, but hardly earth-shattering. And "The Test"?, well, yes, it is better than anything Richard Ashcroft has worked on since "Urban Hymms", but thats not a bold claim is it? Had this track been made several years ago it could now be regarded as something of a classic, but it just doesn't seem worthy of huge praise here in 2002. It has nowhere near the same impact the first listen of "Setting Sun" had.
So, if the Chemical Brothers were to pop round for a cup of tea and ask me to "Come With Us", I'd probably say, "Oh alright then, seen as its you, but I've gotta be up early for work so I'll just have a couple if thats okay with you.
See what I did there?
5The Black Cockerel's Score