The U.K.’s biggest Big Beat stars remind us why they’re essential
During the mainstream “electronica” craze of the 1990s, the Chemical Brothers were avatars of Big Beat maximalism, alongside The Crystal Method, Fatboy Slim and others. This best-of album collects their most incendiary hits, from “Galvanize” (a swaggering anthem with Q-Tip on vocals) to “Setting Sun” (a psychedelic nightmare featuring Noel Gallagher), plus a solid new track (the acidy “Keep My Composure,” featuring Spank Rock). This high-impact compilation, brimming with sirens, hortatory drum rolls and spine-tingling stereo pans, helps us imagine what it might feel like to be a pinball. The flashing lights and flammable beats are aimed right at our X-ed out pleasure centers, predating the long comedown of minimal house. The quality is indisputable, although one might question why the Chems need another best-of. The answer is disc two of Brotherhood, an invaluable collection of their “Electronic Battle Weapons” (promo tracks released to DJs for field testing). “I was under the influence,” goes a repeated vocal sample on one of them: well, no duh.