The “Barking” Reviews, Round 2

Published: by Khouri.

A second helping of reviews of Underworld’s new album, Barking. For more reviews, click here.

My favorite song on Barking, “Diamond Jigsaw”, talks about a white stretch limo and features “pre-mi-um te-qui-la” prominently in its chorus. It sounds cheesy, but it’s fantastic: the world absolutely needs more songs about those nights when you’re flush with cash and having a really good time. Moreover, Underworld is exactly the type of band to write these songs, because aside from aging like rock stars, they also got rich like rock stars. There are worse places to end up than “thoughtfully content headliners,” and a recent, leaked live set/mix from the Privilege club in Ibiza proves that they can still transform their mid-level angst into thumping party-starters. [Link]

…between the twinkling keyboard filigrees that announce “Scribble,” which hearkens back to misty-eyed early rave, and “Hamburg Hotel,” which sounds like a ’70s jazz-funk breakdown elongated to five minutes, the music on Barking also shows a lighter (and flatter) touch. [Link]

Curiously, where Underworld was once a dark foil to what was generally a culture of peace, love and hedonism, in these grim times, “Barking” is a relatively upper’s affair, and something of a techno’s-greatest-bits. [Link]

…less of a return to form then a continuation of what has come before, from the euphoric dance floor fillers of Between The Stars and Always Loved A Film to the gentle raw piano off closing track Louisiana… [Link]

Rick Smith and Karl Hyde lack no talent for innovation. In a moment of rhythmic genius that has to be heard to be believed, a drum kick snaps the deep and philosophical meditation of “Moon In Water” into on-beat, strident electro pop vocals, while the vulnerability of acoustic piano provides a surprising opening to the album’s sunset. [Link]

Barking is, well, barking – a joyous bark at the moon; bark as in woody and real; and, of course, a paean to the Essex that informs so much of Karl Hyde’s writing. By bringing in current producers to remix the tracks, it’s also possibly Underworld’s poppiest ever (more so than Beaucoup Fish), yet retains their trademark dark heart. [Link]

Barking is diversified but cohesive. Pleasing but memorable. Nostalgic but still refreshing. It’s a very ambitious medley of different subgenres that you would never expect to find on a single record together, yet isn’t the slightest bit dissonant. Instead, Underworld takes advantage of its highs and lows and the fluctuating tonality to tell a story. Here is a group that truly stands out from its contemporaries. They are uncategorizable, just a couple of big big time boys. [Link]