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The Chemical Brothers: Dig Your Own Hole


The Chemical Brothers

Album: Dig Your Own Hole
Label: Astralwerks

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For those of you who haven't been paying attention, we've been told that electronic music is the next big thing, despite the fact that there's very little evidence of anyone going out and actually buying it in droves. Sure, MTV has pushed the genre hard enough, devoting much of its 30 minutes of daily music programming to videos depicting pulsating, psychedelic shapes; after 16 years, MTV has finally completed its devolution into the Shiny Things Network. Meanwhile, the pressure on electronic bands to commercially perform has grown with the release of each mediocre-selling U2 and David Bowie record, and by the time The Chemical Brothers' second album Dig Your Own Hole hits stores, the mega-hyped English DJ duo will have reached the point of out-and-out media saturation. Listen to Dig Your Own Hole, and you'll get a feel for why the band is getting such attention in America: Its album is a clattering contraption filled with inventive loops, nicely constructed real-instrument sounds, compellingly throbbing beats, and occasional but unforgettable soundbites like Schoolly D's "Back with another one of those block rockin' beats!" Dig Your Own Hole is full of this stuff, and it's refreshingly devoid of self-seriousness and sterile, guy-and-his-computer wankery. It gets you moving, but what the album lacks is a visceral emotional connection, which is why electronica may never fully set the charts on fire: Most record-buying teens seem to need wailing divas and mawkish lyrics about girls and boys missing their estranged lovers. The one thing The Chemical Brothers' Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons don't do is say anything in particular; they're too busy blurring the boundaries between genres and fucking up the mix to bother with messages or, for that matter, lyrics. If electronica is going to really redefine what we look for in music—and let's remind ourselves again that the genre has been around for many years, shall we?—it's probably going to need to deliver a message more compelling than the return of block rockin' beats. Until that happens, however, Dig Your Own Hole will fill the gap quite nicely.