Come With Us

 
[ release details ]
Released 28th January 2002
[ cover ]

Come With Us album sleeve

[ tracklisting ]
UK/Europe/US CD
Freestyle Dust / Virgin Records (UK/Europe), XDUSTCD5
Freestyle Dust / Virgin Records (UK/Europe), XDUSTCDX5 (Limited Edition Digipack)
Freestyle Dust / Virgin Records (UK/Europe), XDUSTCDJ5 (Promo CD)
Freestyle Dust / Virgin Records (Foreign), XDUSTCDIV5 (Promo CD)
Astralwerks (US), ASW 11682
 
01 Come With Us (4:57)
 02 It Began In Afrika (6:16)
 03 Galaxy Bounce (3:12)
 04 Star Guitar (6:27)
 05 Hoops (6:31)
 06 My Elastic Eye (3:41)
 07 The State We're In (6:27)
 08 Denmark (5:07)
 09 Pioneer Skies (4:04)
 10 The Test (7:48)

Japan CD
Virgin (Japan), VJCP 68367
 01 Come With Us (4:57)
  02 It Began In Afrika (6:16)
  03 Galaxy Bounce (3:12)
  04 Star Guitar (6:27)
  05 Hoops (6:31)
  06 My Elastic Eye (3:41)
  07 The State We're In (6:27)
  08 Denmark (5:07)
  09 Pioneer Skies (4:04)
  10 The Test (7:48)
 11 Star Guitar (Edit) (Video) (3:59)

France Promo CD
Virgin (France), VISA6925
 01 Come With Us (H Foundation Remix)
 02 The Test (Video)

UK/Europe/US 2 X LP
Freestyle Dust / Virgin Records (UK/Europe), XDUSTLP5
Astralwerks (US), ASW
 A1 Come With Us (4:57)
 A2 It Began In Afrika (6:16)
 A3 Galaxy Bounce (3:12)
 B1 Star Guitar (6:27)
 B2 Hoops (6:31)
 C1 My Elastic Eye (3:41)
 C2 The State We're In (6:27)
 C3 Denmark (5:07)
 D1 Pioneer Skies (4:04)
 D2 The Test (7:48)

UK/Europe Cassette
Freestyle Dust / Virgin Records (UK/Europe), XDUSTMC5
 A1 Come With Us (4:57)
 A2 It Began In Afrika (6:16)
 A3 Galaxy Bounce (3:12)
 A4 Star Guitar (6:27)
 A5 Hoops (6:31)
 B1 My Elastic Eye (3:41)
 B2 The State We're In (6:27)
 B3 Denmark (5:07)
 B4 Pioneer Skies (4:04)
 B5 The Test (7:48)

UK/Europe Promo 3 X 12"
Freestyle Dust / Virgin Records (UK/Europe), XDUSTLPDJ5
 01 Come With Us (4:57)
  02 It Began In Afrika (6:16)
  03 Galaxy Bounce (3:12)
  04 Star Guitar (6:27)
  05 Hoops (6:31)
  06 My Elastic Eye (3:41)
  07 The State We're In (6:27)
  08 Denmark (5:07)
  09 Pioneer Skies (4:04)
  10 The Test (7:48)
[ information ]

highest UK chart position - No. 1

The album features two guest vocalists; Beth Orton on "The State We're In" and Richard Ashcroft on "The Test".

[ reviews ]
muzik [ "At first it feels like a bum deal but when their mojo gets to work on you, you'll be addicted, forces to admit the brothers have worked it out, yet again"]

Oh to be a Chemical Brother. Everyone with a brain thinks your a genius. You click your fingers and anyone with a larynx is desperate to sing on your album. You knock out a single and dancefloor trends change. You've got as much respect as you have critical and commercial success. In short you're a lucky bastard. 

So when the Chemical Brothers say "Come With Us" you'd be a fool not to pack the Tupperware and join them. Where are they going? Difficult to say, but chances are there will be a phalanx of vocal names along for the trip, a heap of massive dancefloor tunes, and probably an epic, life affirming spell of psychedelia to boot, right?

Well, not quite. Hardly a difficult album, "Come With Us" is Tom and Ed's least Chemical Brothers sounding album to date. Its most immediate trait is its lack of immediacy, in fact. Where's all that Chemical's stuff gone? The head-shredding breaks, the noise that swooshes between channels then explodes? Mostly in the opening track, as it turns out. "Come With Us" starts off things in synapse-tickling style. A rousing call to arms, its a berserk compendium of the Chemical Brothers' favourite sounds, just to remind you that you're in the company of the dons of dance. "Behold, they're coming back", a sampled voice intones, before the bass drum kicks in. Even the mardiest mantra ray would get goose bumps. 

After the Tarzan-on-ketamine thump of "It Began In Afrika" , you get the new single "Star Guitar". It'll be massive but is not their best moment by a long chalk. "Hoops" on the other hand, now that's a track...Its like the Beach Boys inventing electro and it begins an incredible section on the album, segueing into "My Electric Eye", which broadly speaking, sounds like the soundtrack to an Italian slasher movie set in Puerto Rico. Honest.

From "Hoops" onwards we're talking gourmet head-food with Hunter S. Thomas waiting tables. Beth Orton sings the West Coast comedown number "The State We're In", - and like the whole album - its not all that on the first listen. But when its renting permanent space in your life - as it will be - you'll be weeping every time you hear it. 

Then its back to the dancefloor for wah-wah guitars and horns on "Denmark" followed by the perverse trippy beauty of "Pioneer Skies"  - like hearing Kraftwerk cover "St Peppers", only weirder and better. And for their last trick? Richard Ashcroft on the albums only other collaboration, "The Test" a startling rock number that kicks the shit out of "Setting Sun". 

So what we're talking about here is a trade. The Chems have swapped any knock-you-sideways for stuff like atmosphere and texture, and - sorry - depth. At first it feels like a bum deal but when their mojo gets to work on you, you'll be addicted, forces to admit the brothers have worked it out, yet again. Lucky bastards.
[ 4/5 ]      

nme [ "The reason that 'Come With Us' seems unsatisfying is that The Chemicals no longer seem rooted in club culture the way they were in their Heavenly Social days"]

The Chemical Brothers know that the dancefloor is no place for half measures - you're either on it or you're not. But having exhorted us through their previous album titles to 'Exit Planet Dust', 'Dig Your Own Hole' and (best of all) 'Surrender', the superstar DJs have a vaguer request.

'Come With Us' isn't exactly 'heeere we go!' but it accurately reflects the mood of the Chemicals' fourth album. Having powered their sound with the trance turbine on 1999's 'Surrender', Tom and Ed seem unsure about where to head next. Garage, R&B and electroclash having presumably all been tried and rejected, they've retreated back into themselves, tinkering with the templates that have served them so well in the past. So we get the Beth Orton one ('The State We're In'), the dirtily funky one ('Denmark'), the psychedelic one ('My Elastic Eye') and the one that goes ka-BOOM! (last year's single 'It Began In Afrika').

In other words, the urge to experiment has gone the way of Tom's 'Magic Roundabout' hairstyle, the worst manifestation of this being the grand finale, 'The Test', which features vocals by Richard Ashcroft. Instead of proving that there's still fire in his belly after the damp love-in of his solo album, Dickie delivers a complacent lyric about having "passed the acid test" while the Chems back him with half-baked big beats. The Beth Orton track is far better, a heavily sedated ballad featuring Deaf giving it the Dusty Springfield treatment.

Enough of the indie. The reason that 'Come With Us' seems unsatisfying is that The Chemicals no longer seem rooted in club culture the way they were in their Heavenly Social days. Their album is the sound of international jet-setters who haven't had to queue for a club in many a long year; who know their way round a studio so well that they no longer make intriguing mistakes; who make drug music despite having (no doubt) more or less given up drugs. Tracks like the Balearic 'Star Guitar', while lovely, audibly sigh with nostalgia about the days before the great unwashed invaded Ibiza while 'Hoops' sports Stone Roses guitars. There's not much engagement with the now - a cardinal sin in pop, never mind dance music.

Last year was by no means a vintage year in dance culture so perhaps the Chemicals can't be blamed for sounding uninspired. And it's unfortunate for them that this is their first album not to be light years better than the one before. If you'd never heard a Chemicals record, you'd think it was pretty thrilling, especially when the rock drums, riffing violins and sirens pile up on the title track. But if you stand still on the dancefloor, you're apt to get pushed to the sidelines.
[ 6/10]

q [ ...their fourth album attempts to blend the brutal efficiency of current dancefloor trends with, basically, the music that prompted the duo to make records in the first place]

Despite its billing as the last frontier of all that is new and therefore exciting, dance music is experiencing a curious outbreak of nostalgia at present. Always comforting, the past even if it's re-packaged to mean Vapo-rub, the phrase "Come on you nutters!" and a smiley face adorning every dance compilation released between now and next Christmas. Perhaps the sudden interest in the turn of the last decade is due to a collective realisation that, as Channel 4's recent Pump Up The Volume series revealed, acid house and its offspring never did change the world, only weekends.

Even The Chemical Brothers have begun to reminisce, since their fourth album attempts to blend the brutal efficiency of current dancefloor trends with, basically, the music that prompted the duo to make records in the first place. Which is why Star Guitar, despite its pace, principally recalls late '80s halls-of-residence favourites My Bloody Valentine, thanks to splashes of elongated distortion and a disoriented female vocal that maintains, "you should feel what I feel/ you should take what I take."

Elsewhere there's the kind of gonzo drum machine action and tribal drum rolls not seen since David Holmes was just some guy with a record bag, not soundtracking the next George Clooney movie. Remarkably, woozy narco-ballad The State We're In ("never said it was sunshine/ but you took it all of the time") is an apparent homage to not one but two tracks from Primal Scream's Screamadelica: Damaged and Higher Than The Sun. Unfortunately it's sung not by method junkie Bobby Gillespie but with affected disinterest by Beth Orton.

And that's ultimately why Come With Us never quite holds your attention. While good, clean, hedonistic fun, it feels over-familiar, like somewhere you've visited once too often. Denmark is certainly far less exciting than any track built from bells, whistles and slap-bass ought to be. And although the Richard Ashcroft fronted Acid Test at least marks a change from the pair's usual rock vocalist, Noel Gallagher, it's no improvement on the hideous self-parody that was Ashcroft's last dance-related cameo, Lonely Soul from 1998's UNKLE album Psyence Fiction. Tellingly, as an exercise, it's one step forward, one back.
[ 3/5 ]

dotmusic

Tom and Ed return with their fourth album, 'Come With Us', a joyous romp that strikes back to the heart of the Chemical sound clash.

Arriving on the arpeggio string arrangement of the title track, you could be forgiven for thinking for an instant that the Chemicals have followed Daft Punk into Baroque pop territory.

The thought is foolish and short lived.

After their brief classical intermission, the Brothers dust down their trademark surging beast of beats and spiraling synth sounds, disinter a dark vocal sample, intoning "Behold We're Coming Back", and deliver a scorching guitar and bass synth laced 'Social' break beat.

As an indication of what is to come it's powerful and poignant, boldly re-stating the no-holds barred approach that originally made the Chemical Brothers stand out. Lest it be forgotten, not only did the Chemicals break the mould in the mid Nineties by being a dance outfit that embraced indie acts, they also espoused an anything goes philosophy that utilized rock guitar, thundering hip hop drums, scorching acidic 303, African beats and, as they do here, classical string arrangements.

Rising through repeated aural assaults, break beat break downs and a quirky Leo Nocentelli funky guitar line, 'Come With Us' charges like a genetically modified funk rock rhino into the tribal trance of last year's single, 'It Began In Africa'. 'Africa' is competent but next to the engaging, work-in-progress quirky funk of 'Galaxy Bounce', it seems straight. All of which makes the appeal of the soon to be released 'Star Guitar' single more odd.

Combining a slightly tweaked house drum pattern with gushing swells of trance synth lines and an ambient, occasionally Balearic, feel, the formulae here is far from original. But it's won applause wherever it's been played. Once again the secret of its success is in the production, where the endemic fragility of the song is given depth by the contrastingly harsh drum sounds. But perhaps the greatest achievement of 'Come With Us' is its stamina, with one of the most interesting contributions, the multi textural 'Hoops', only coming half way through the playing order. It may not be the obvious single, but it's probably the album's finest moment.

'My Elastic Eye' again collides the delicate and ephemeral with harsh electronica, and with more devastating effect than the comparatively safe 'Star Guitar'. The theme of organic fragility jutted against electronic energy is repeated in Beth Ortan's plaintive vocals on 'The State We're In', in which she struggles against keyboards and effects that in anybody else's studio would have been too high in the mix. Here it seems to work.

Juxtaposed to this comes 'Denmark', a bass driven disco stomp that clatters along on early Nineties Knuckle's wood blocks before the full drum kit takes over the percussion and a bass drill pounds into the 'Pig Bag' bass line. Further pushing the boundaries, 'Pioneer Skies', an awesomely large production for its length, sounds like pure Pete Townshend circa his 'Who's Next' prog era.

Finally the plodding drum rolls of 'The Test', featuring Richard Ashcroft, offer the album's largest olive branch to the unrepentant unconverted.

Unlike their recent offerings, 'Come With Us' doesn't rely on collaborations to cross over into different markets. Nor does it turn out tub-thumping dance music to capture the club contingent. Rather, like their earlier offerings, it matches big sound crowd-pleasing gimmicks with the cerebrally challenging and adventurous. It exposes the unmatched raw nerve of Chemical Brothers' production and spikes it with innovation.

A subtly brutal and powerfully fragile masterpiece.