Although I am a huge music fan and I can appreciate most genres, when it comes to electronica I generally tend to like what may be deemed too commercial for hard-core fans. Although the band release its first record in the late 1980s, like many I knew nothing about them until their absolutely sensational hit single "Born Slippy" shook up "Trainspotting," which also happens to be one of the most original movies released in 1996. That song has an energy that is rarely found in commercial electronica and it still sounds amazing after all these years. After liking "8 Ball" from "The Beach," I decided that Underworld deserved to be heard more carefully.
Although I understand that this release may not be among Underworld's best, I have no other point of reference, except that of the two aforementioned singles and some songs that friends have introduced me to. At first listen I actually liked this CD, but although it is rare for me, the more I heard it the less I liked it. It is flawlessly produced, but it lacks passion. "Cups" starts out like a placid "Café Del Mar"-like song, it never reaches goes anywhere. "Push Upstairs" is energetic and I would love it, instead of just liking it, if it did not sound so much like "Born Slippy." "Jumbo" is a good journey. I love the "I Feel Love"-like synth of "Shudder/King Of Snake" and although it's my favorite song of the release, it does not inspire nor energize me. The rest of the songs are not that different, with maybe a little Gregorian chant here and traces of energy (i.e the beginning of "Kittens"), but mostly tired and repetitive sounds that are passable at best.
After listening to this release I guess my biggest problem with it is that it mixes acid-house and trance and does not go for the complex ubber beats that I loved in songs that I have heard from their previous releases. There is nothing wrong with trance or acid-house, but there are "capable" artists in those genres that do it better, In my view Underworld should keep challenging themselves and their audience with the loud passion and quiet power of their best work. This release only gets 2 stars from me, but you may want to check out their earlier work and the "Born Slippy" remixes are a must!!!