On their sixth album, The Chemical Brothers trade in the party vibe for a more serious groove atmosphere.Perhaps its a sign of maturity, but We Are The Night isn't the most graceful of aging. The album's full of electronic melodies in cruise control, and when it's time to give it gas up a hill, it struggles to kick in. It's also a highly collaborative effort, and their guests seem to get lost in mixes instead of providing starpower.
We Are The Night is a mix of rolling, repetitive instrumentals, and stark collaborative vocals. The first single, "Do It Again" featuring Ali Love, is a subdued club house beat based mostly on a seven-note riff. Unfortunately, Love's vocals are too weak to support it. "All Rights Reversed", the most intense of the guest tracks, features The Klaxons and an electro-rave atmosphere. The most unique track on the album is "Salmon Dance", which features L.A. hip-hopper Fatlip. It's a short story about a dude dancing like a salmon that includes a trippy lounge beat and a quirky info session between Fatlip and a narrative, robotic "Sammy the Salmon". The humor gets lost somewhere along the line, though. "Battle Scars" features an abrasive, dissonant vocal contribution from singer Willy Mason over a chiming Gorillaz-esque beat. Much like the others, the track doesn't build any particular momentum. Texas band Midlake joins the effort on the ending track, "The Pills Won't Help You Know". It's a quiet serenade until a digitized rock track swells with strings and synths behind a light crooning vocal track. It might be the highlight of the entire album, but it doesn't happen until the last three minutes. Considering all of the guests featured on past Chemical Brothers albums (Noel Gallagher, Q-Tip, Richard Ashcroft, Hope Sandoval) We Are The Night goes more for quantity, not quality.
On the instrumental side of things there's a little excitement. "Saturate" has a grimy club beat that eventually synths out into a crashing apex. "Das Spiegel" is a laser-tinged groove with a sunny highway feel. "We Are The Night" is a somewhat relaxed version of the hyperkinetic trance-dance sound that Tom & Ed have mastered over the years. "Burst Generator" is a galloping digital swirl with more trademark breakbeats. At least there's some continuity and progression of the past works in their instrumental tracks.
From top to bottom, We Are The Night is the least intense, least progressive album the duo's ever released. There's isn't much punch or purpose, other than cranking out some nifty tunes with some nifty names attached. But The Chemical Brothers have always meant much more than that, and let their legacy down with this album. Despite that, it still has their stamp, and it's still worth some attention.