EMI - 2005

It's hard to imagine the story of dance music's emergence from the underground in the late 1980s and early 1990s to the mainstream without the Chemical Brothers.

Seminal tracks like 'The Private Psychedelic Reel' were a siren call leading fans out to spontaneous raves in fields across England, then suddenly dance music was hitting the top of the charts. Like fellow old-timers Orbital, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons didn't look much on stage but made up for it with their crowd-pleasing sonic innovations.

It may have been Massive Attack who first brought the dance-singer collaboration to acclaim with the 1990s' masterpiece that was 'Unfinished Sympathy', but the brothers have made the genre all their own in the last decade with a long line of inspired get togethers with music's great, good and just plain famous. The Verve's Richard Ashcroft, The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne, Mercury Rev's Jonathan Donahue and Beth Orton have all featured.

Who else could take the decidedly mediocre vocals of someone like Noel Gallagher and make a floor-filling classic like 'Let Forever Be'? With other catchy tracks like 'Hey Boy Hey Girl', it didn't seem to even matter that nobody knew who was singing.

The Chemical Brothers take the latter idea and really run with it on this record, which features the soothing voices of little known London soulsters The Magic Numbers on 'Close Your Eyes' and the chopped-up vocals of Kele Okereke from Bloc Party, the British indie band many think is the most likely to break through in 2005.

Rapper Anwar Superstar provides an album highlight with a virulently anti-war song that marks an unusual foray into politics for the Brothers. Other instrumental tracks like 'Shake Break Bounce', 'Marvo Ging' and lead single 'Galvinise' in particular how that the duo haven't forgotten how to pile the beats high and make the hooks utterly infectious.

The trouble with being around for eleven years, though, is that music fashions come and go, and dance music has been on a downward graph since it hit its peak of popularity in the mid- to late-1990s, when nearly half your mates seemed to have two record players and thought they could successfully set both playing at once.

With the new millennium came nu-metal and many bands called 'The' something to wrest fans' attentions back to rock. Still, dance fans will enjoy this album, which features some of the Chemical Brothers' best material since 1997's runaway success 'Dig Your Own Hole'.

Bill Lehane

Tracklisting: Galvanise – The Boxer – Believe – Hold Tight London – Come Inside – The Big Jump – Left Right – Close Your Eyes – Shake Break Bounce – Marvo Ging – Surface To Air.