Underworld: Barbara Barbara, we face a shining future (Astralwerks) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, May 26th, 2020  

Underworld

Barbara Barbara, we face a shining future

Astralwerks

Mar 16, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Underworld have always hid a decidedly punk aesthetic beneath their crunching electronics. While hardly as confrontational as the all-gobbing, safety-pin-punctured acts of the late 1970s, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith have tended to take a similar sneering look at the subcultures around them, never afraid to call out bullshit over their propulsive techno throbs.

With 35 years under their belts and a continuous stream of career highpoints (which include scoring the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony) to lean on, the U.K. duo have clearly got more staying power than your average group of guitar-wielding miscreants. The release of Barbara Barbara, we face a shining future only reinforces their continued relevance.

Weighing in at just seven songs, album number eight is a far meatier experience than it seems. The gigantic bass-driven growl of opener "I Exhale" feels like a smash to the solar plexus; its jarring, tortured rhythms soiled by Hyde's relentless blah, blah, blah-ing. Its follow up, "If Rah," is an equally compelling squall that builds into a '90s dancefloor apex of major keys and jagged beats.

Hyde's learning from his excellent 2014 collaborations with Brian Eno surfaces here as the droning flotation of "Motorhome." Slow, pensive, and majestic, it's a beautifully crafted and tranquil moment amongst the more towering, foreboding edifices that surround it, such as the bassbin bombast of "Low Burn."

It's not all perfect fare. Album outro "Nylon Strung" is little more than tepid subpar electro balladry, while the four minutes of "Santiago Cuatro"'s wilting guitar plucks seem entirely out of keeping here. But Underworld have never been without their flaws. In fact, they never will be. They just keep doing what they want, how they want, when they want. Nothing is more punk than that. (www.underworldlive.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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