Album review

Underworld :
A Hundred Days Off

JBO / V2

Underworld : A Hundred Days OffA Hundred Days Off is an important album for Underworld. Since Beaucoup Fish surfaced three years ago, long-serving DJ Darren Emerson has left for pastures new, leaving Karl Hyde and Rick Smith with a lot to prove.
    Mo Move kicks things off, and as the trademark springy bass loop is dusted off, Hyde intones, "I dream that I'm chemical . . . I've become chemical." Mo Move couldn't be anyone but Underworld, and while it's a good lead track, I'm not convinced it's 14 minutes good . . .
    Two Months Off is more of the same, and while I was disappointed when I first heard it as a single - let's face it, it ain't no Born Slippy or King Of Snake - I've got to admit that after repeated plays I am succumbing to its hypnotic charm.

By the time Little Speaker rolls around a couple of tracks later, a major flaw in A Hundred Days Off is becoming apparent: Virtually all of the tracks here seem to be constructed from the same limited building blocks. Hyde and Smith seem content to recycle a small pool of ideas throughout the disc, and fail to recapture the inventiveness or scope of previous albums.
    The only track that could be considered an exception is Dinosaur Adventure 3D. It may not be pushing the envelope, but the vibrant pace and Hyde's urgent vocals provide a vintage Underworld fix that's otherwise absent on A Hundred Days Off.
    Dinosaur Adventure 3D's brief glimse of greatness prompted me to dig out Beaucoup Fish and Second Toughest In The Infants, both of which only reinforce my opinion that this latest Underworld effort just isn't very good. Whether an Emerson-less Underworld will ever reach this level again is anyone's guess, but until they do I suggest you stick with the old stuff.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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