Album review / New

Album Review: Brand New Machine

We’re reviewing the new album by Chase & Status. Proceeded by singles ‘Lost & Found‘ and the absolutely amazing ‘Count On Me‘, we hold high hopes for the duo’s third studio release. However, 2013 will go down as the year of the minimal electro revolution, led by the likes of Disclosure, Duke Dumont and Aluna George. Have Chase & Status succumbed to the latest trend, or managed to hold onto the distinctive sounds which makes them so popular?

01 – Gun Metal Grey: This is a somewhat unenjoyable introduction to the album. 3/10

02 – International: The first thing that hits us is this track’s absolutely booming bass line on the chorus. It’s all still a bit too noisy at this point, with sirens, glitches and bleeps all over the shop. It also has odd reggae bits where the electronic beats drop out momentarily. In this way, it’s reminiscent of Basement Jaxx’s less finer moments, or even MIA. 7/10

03 – Count On Me (feat Moko): The instantly welcoming beat on this song calls to mind 90s house at its very finest, and this song is one that blends the revival and the contemporary seamlessly to make one banger of a tune. 10/10

04 – Blk & Blu (feat Ed Thomas): Aside from the atrocious spelling in the title of the track this is a decent tune. It sounds like a blend of minimal 90s house, of the type that has been so ‘in’ this year, mixed with early 2000 UK-garage sounds, and the end result is better than it probably ought to be. A sick bassline guides the whole track. 8/10

05 – Pressure (feat Major Lazer): ‘Pressure’ is a darker effort which sounds in equal parts hypnotic and foreboding. It’s not our cup of tea – it’s hard to imagine a song more different from ‘Count On Me’ – but it does make compelling listening. 6/10

06 – Machine Gun (feat Pusha T): The rap from Pusha T sets off this track finely, and by the time the chorus smacks us, the job is done. Following along a similar dark sound to ‘Pressure’, it therefore makes a good follow up, the first time the album tracks can said to have flown well into one another. 8/10

07 – Gangsta Boogie (feat Knytro): If we were enjoying the ‘rapping’ from Pusha T in the last track, Knytro comes to spit some harder rhymes. This feels more like a Chase & Status production than a song from the Chase & Status song, with the there being very little to the tune beyond the rap and the vocals. 5/10

08 – Heaven Knows (feat Elli Ingram): When the vocals first hit they almost sound Mutya-esque, although a quick Google reveals that Elli Ingram is indeed a real person and not a weird identity shielding side project from everyone’s favourite (ex)Sugababe. This is exactly the kind of gloomy, moody ‘hipster pop’ – as we refer to it – which annoys us, as we don’t think it’s very good. It’s a no from us to this track, although Elli does sound promising. 4/10

09 – Lost & Not Found (feat Louis M^tters): The first single lifted from the album and with trademark Chase & Status sounds throughout, there’s nothing here for a true Chase & Status fan not to be enjoying. 9/10

10 – Like That (feat Moko): Moko makes a welcome return to be the only credited artist featuring twice on the album. The second visit isn’t as 90’s-tastic or frenetic as the first, but despite the brooding nature of the song we still find it much more enjoyable than ‘Heaven Knows’. However, there is no denying that this sounds like Chase & Status trying to emulate the sounds of Naughty Boy feat Emeli Sandé, and thus we are not able to rate it highly. 6/10

11 – Deeper Devotion: The name quite obviously brings to mind club classic ‘(I Wanna Give You) Devotion’, and this track fortunately emits such fabulous vibes, to a large degree. When the gorgeous piano enters at around 1:55, it is impossible not to want to join the dance floor, or at the very least least partake in a spot of chairdancing. This track single handedly answers all our prayers with regards to another 90’s-tastic track, and this one belongs much further up the tracklisting, with ‘Count On Me’. 10/10

12 – Breathing (feat Bo Saris): This  starts off with a familiar sounding lite-D&B backing. The vocals and production are tight, but it feels just a tad soulless, without either soaring vocals or a more exploratory or heavy beat to elevate the song to further accolades. 6/10

13 – What Is Right (feat Nile Rodgers & Abigail Wyles): Not one but two featured artists are brought along for this song, but unfortunately this slice of hipster pop doesn’t hit our sweet spot. 5/10

14 – Alive (feat Jacob Banks): The closing track starts off slowly but escalates into something heavier and more interesting to listen to, with a lovely bit of ‘wooo-wooo-wooo-woooh’ing at around 2:30, and some soaring vocals to boot. It ends rather abruptly. 7/10

Overall: As mentioned within the review for ‘Gansta Boogie’, this album feels too much of a Chase & Status production rather than a Chase & Status album. Whilst their first album, ‘More Than Alot’, was undeniably and unashamedly their own, second effort ‘No More Idols’ depended a lot more upon its featured guests, and this album follows the latter in that respect. Whilst we appreciate artists who chop and change their sound around regularly, for example the career of Kylie Minogue, we do always find it a bit messy when albums jump from musical style to style to style without so much as an interlude or a word of warning.  In this way, Chase & Status let themselves down, with a track listing that doesn’t flow and a real mixed bags of different styles. This will appeal to different ranges of people but will they like the mishmash compilation of the album? Of course, we’re not saying Chase & Status should stick to style X or style Y, but more cohesion within the album to make it sound like a body of work rather than a compilation, would be most welcome from us. We said with ‘International’ that it reminds us of Basement Jaxx and this is true – with Basement Jaxx you never quite know what you are getting – and this seems to be true here too. Perhapse Chase & Status could take a leaf out of Basement Jaxx’s book and consider putting out a concept album in the style of ‘Crazy Itch Radio’, an album which sounds like flicking through different pirate radio stations late at night, if they are determined to continue with their mish-mash of styles.

To sum up: A real mixed bag but there must surely be something to please every one here. 7/10.



One thought on “Album Review: Brand New Machine

  1. Pingback: Song Of The Week | popfools

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