Underworld - Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future: A grown-up, multi-layered and beautifully crafted album

Electronic duo Underworld's ninth album, their first in six years, sees the now firmly middle-aged Karl Hyde and Rick Smith mostly slip away from the dance floor in search of more eclectic, atmospheric offerings.

Friday, 1st April 2016, 2:00 pm
Underworld - Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future

There's still plenty that's familiar in opener I Exhale with its pounding beats, chanted chorus and Hyde's laddish non sequiturs echoing the group's huge 1996 hit, Born Slippy .NUXX.

If Rah also pushes the pace with Hyde's sardonic spoken vocals and a minimalist Casiotone-crunch of music, making it come across like a less nerdy Losing My Edge by LCD Soundsystem.

However, the rest of the album is far more reflective and adventurous.

The meditative Santiago Cuatro is led by the liquid plucks of an acoustic guitar, mimicking the sound of raindrops during a tropical storm.

It's mesmeric and quite unlike anything the band has ever done before. Ova Nova and Nylon Strung replace the frenetic beats of the group's rave beginnings with a smoother, sexier sound.

Here Hyde's vocals are treated so they become a gliding falsetto and then slide into the electronic backing.

This is a grown-up, multi-layered and beautifully crafted album.