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The Daily Tar Heel

Chemical Brothers Score Fourth Big Knockout

4 Stars

The beginning of Come With Us, a tense buildup full of anticipation and expectation, would be just perfect for the introduction of a heavyweight champion entering the ring.

And in a way, the first seconds of the Chemical Brothers' fourth full-length album do just that. The duo of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons has occupied the dance world's top tier for some time now.

After releasing three albums (1995's Exit Planet Dust, 1997's Dig Your Own Hole and 1999's Surrender) that ranged from absolutely solid to just plain brilliant, the Chems have certainly kept their footing. Once again, they have taken the initiative, inviting listeners to accompany them through new sonic territory. Rowlands and Simons are master beat-smiths, always ready to rumble, whether using complex break-beat rhythms, strains of hip hop or funky house music.

Come With Us has its share of fantastic dance tracks. "It Began In Afrika," with its layered percussion and chilling jungle effects, is probably the most well-known. Then there's "Star Guitar," which is as celestial as the title suggests.

Thankfully, the album isn't just a monotonous jumble of banging club anthems. The Chemical Brothers have continued to act upon the realization that successful full-length dance LPs require producers to mix things up.

Come With Us has both its uppercuts and light jabs, as Rowlands and Simons don't feel the need to always pummel the listener. Covering extra ground is "The State We're In," a downbeat track featuring the ethereal vocals of Beth Orton, with whom the Chemical Brothers have worked before. The song is one of the mellower alternatives to the loud, energetic tracks.

While a beat is always present on the album, the rhythms go from stuttering to gliding to slamming to tripping. The diversity of the sounds on Come With Us is a huge factor in its success.

Despite this diversity, the album flows remarkably well from start to finish. The last cut is a soaring, epic collaboration with the Verve's Richard Ashcroft called "The Test."

The Chemical Brothers have passed theirs with flying colors.

The duo's first album of the new millennium has shown the two are capable of keeping up with and even leading the dance music crowd. In an industry where today's hot trends can quickly become yesterday's news, the music of Rowlands and Simons has never seemed old.

The album is of such great quality and vitality that no end is in sight for the duo's ability to sound relevant and refreshing. Like its previous albums, Come With Us is a multifaceted musical experience that caters to the imagination and body alike.

It's yet another in a string of knockout blows for these big boys of electronica.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at

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