1995, Music

Exit Planet Dust (1995) by The Chemical Brothers

I remain fairly mystified by what to do with electronic music that isn’t very clearly pathbreaking. (Though I know some people would consider this album highly influential.) And so, as with most electronic music of the 1990s which fails to move me (so most of it), I have no idea what to do with this album.

I only decided to listen to it because it’s considered such a big deal. But it contains none of the Chemical Brothers hits I know. (I guess later records were bigger?) I read about how what they are doing here was really influential on other electronic musicians who crossed over later – some of whom I’ve actually heard of! – but I honestly don’t know late ’90s electronic music at all, and I have no idea if what’s here really did change anything.

To me, this is mostly pretty one-note, at least until the tracks with vocals come in. The sound is brash, which I guess I appreciate, but I’m not sure how distinct it was from the other UK electronic music at the time. (Wasn’t that just the thing at the time? Going over the top?) I honestly have a hard time differentiating many of the earlier tracks until the two songs with vocals. (Is Beth Orton trying to sound like Dolores O’Riordan at times on “Alive Alone” or is it just me?)

And it’s crazy to me that some of these songs were hits. Like, if you were to ask me what’s one big difference you could point to between the UK and North America in terms of music tastes, I would point to “Leave Home” topping the UK chart while making basically no impression here. (I’m on our side on that. I don’t get why it’s a #1 hit. Makes no sense to me.)

To the best of my knowledge, this is well done. But I really have no idea. Because it has none of their actually big songs I really don’t have much to hook onto as a person who is used to listening to songs with both lyrics and live instrumentation.

I am not the person you should listen to about this record, clearly.


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