Bent’s fourth album, Intercept!, picks up after Ariels and further masters their blend of eccentric chillout and ethereal house. The secret ingredient is an unconventional lushness from the duo’s signature background effects and array of beats. The tag team of Nail Tolliday and Simon Mills split from their record label between albums, and consider themselves in a rebirth stage. There are still many aspects of the custom Bent sound present, but Intercept! is tinged with more sophisticated lyrics and polished beats. Their unusual melodies result from a programmable charisma and celestial ambience throughout all of their material.
Just as their debut, Programmed to Love, began with "Exercise 1", Intercept! begins with #7 in the series, commenced by the familiar old man’s voice, angelically gliding around a sample of uptempo chillout palpitations. "Breakfast at 80,000 ft" is a Lemon Jelly-esque spacewalk in the morning sun. "Wendy darling" is a short, stringy melody breathing over a light flute that would go well in an evening drive to a party. "As Seen From Space" is the most delicate track, with soft piano flights and a virtuous chorale that could even de-stress Woody Allen before bed.
Guest vocals are notably provided by Simian’s former frontman, Simon Lord, on nearly half of the tracks. While Simian is defunct, its essence lives on vicariously through Intercept!. "To Be Loved" is a cascading jaunt remniscient of Simian’s quirky pop. Similarly, "Waiting For You" is a jittery, fuzztronic track with altered vocals and an erratic guitar loop. Though less uptempo, "Tired of the Show" is a beeping, frustrated swing on a relatively thin backdrop. In a calmer tense, "The Handbrake" is a rubberized, swooning ballad, sustaining a flighty sensation throughout. Simian-esque beats and minimal vocals form the base of "After All the Love", highlighted by whistling and soothing harmonica to finish the album.
Bent blissfully extend their catalog with Intercept! and continue to develop their unique brand of electronica. With a large portion of the album featuring the same vocalist, there is perhaps more of a continuity with this album than in the past, but Bent’s idea of continuity is still quite vast. The airy synth, digital claps, and staccatoed guitar are obvious in several tracks, but in a wide array of melodies and tempos. Intercept! is yet another triumph, and Bent remain innovators of indie chillout.