It's hard to believe it's been over a decade since TIME Magazine heralded the Chemical Brothers (alongside Prodigy, Fluke, Orbital, and others) as stateside ambassadors of "electronica". False hopes cluttered up expectations, but even as many groups (often 2- and 3-member duos, if not lone bedroom musicians) faded along the way, the Chems kept pounding on new doors, bursting beyond their original badge of "big beat" to encapsulate a sound that could, in the end, only be their own (and often-imitated it was!).
It's convenient to have many of their big singles on here, altho I would've sequenced them differently -- "Block Rockin' Beats" is such a wake-up standout that I wonder why it was placed 3rd. Also, it isn't entirely clear whether this is the 1-CD version, since the track listing doesn't say -- yet the header claims "[LIMITED EDITION]". To the latter's point, the "Electronic Battle Weapons" are a wonderful showcase of party mayhem, the Chems continuing the 80s spirit of rough, raw beats (then it was breakdance, which has evolved into krumping and other styles...) rocking the neighborhood.
Also unique and notable about the Chemical Bros. is how they've been able to create albums that work as such, sometimes with tracks seguing flawlessly into each other, but how they've done strongly with singles too. To this day, that's extremely rare in electronic music -- many hit singles, few "artist albums" that gel as a whole.
While I feel their later explorations weren't as effective as earlier outings, admittedly, this is in part because I've become desensitzed to their once-novel way of taking disparate influences which you might not think work together, and whuppin' them into mighty, bold stews.
And then, there are the more delicate (but no less strong) excursions, like the harmonic rush of "Star Guitar" -- if you haven't seen the Michel Gondry-directed music video, its tempo-locked, tightly-synchronized visuals are a MUST. A MUST, I say!
"Out of Control" is another lesser-known (compared to the standout Beatles-infused dementia of "Setting Sun") beauty, used to great effect in Wipeout 3 and having an awesome guitar breakdown with syncopated breakbeats that get the mix moving again.
Overall, a wonderful retrospective, both healthy for your party and knowledge of technology-based music history. If you didn't discover the magic of the Chemical Brothers' time-travelling psychedelia "the first time around", there's no better time to start than now.