The Chemical Brothers have consistently created perfect psychedelic experiences. What makes it hard to definitively describe the duo, however, is their addiction to crossing genres. We Are the Night their sixth album doesn't pioneer or break any new ground, as haters will surely point out. But it does strengthen a legacy that has continued to satisfy. Forget the term "electronica"; this is a mellow trip through "future-disco" and imaginative pop. Everything still comes out of a backpack, with electro nuances pushing against their signature big beat sound, all accented by minimalist keyboards and (yet again) tons of guest vocals. The title track kickstarts the dreamy excursion, weaving UFO sounds into monotone chants and cling-clang percussion. "Saturate" pumps like chilly Daft Punk, until sampled drums explode over pulsing synths. That track and the equally inspiring "Burst Generator" are prime examples of the Chems' form of psychedelia. What starts out as a one-dimensional, robotic composition can easily spiral into ecstasy. "Burst Generator," meanwhile, layers buzzing guitar over bleeps and washes of white noise. "The Pills Won't Help You Now" is an update on the Postal Service, with fragile vocals by Midlake that tread over a starry soundscape, making for one delightfully lazy trip. Half-baked moments such as "The Salmon Dance" (with raps about going upstream, from Pharcyde's Fatlip) still mange to show off the duo's mixtape tendencies. In the end, these guys know how to make an album in this era of the single-song download.
Brian Hoekstra writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].