Apr. 13th, 2014

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Released January 25th, 2005 Push The Button is The Chemical Brothers' fifth album. While not their last release, it is the final stop of the Chem train in my music collection. I remember that I bought it new – having not heard anything off it yet – from Borders. This was back when money was more plentiful for me and Borders hadn't gone out of business. Even back then I was probably overcharged for the CD, but hey – I had more money to spend. I was also living in an "efficiency" apartment for $400 per month with all utilities included.

These were the good old days?

I love the cover art on this disc and I find it to be a bit of a shame that I'm not holding a 12-inch vinyl sleeve right now. The cover drawing is blue and black against a plain white background – very stark. Pictured is a stone tower with a fist atop it, surrounded by the outline of a human head. Inside of the outline are the three words which make up the LP title in all caps: PUSH THE BUTTON. The visual impact is immediate, much like the prism on Dark Side of the Moon. Illustration Kam Tang must have taken some inspiration from Storm Thorgerson.

So, what have we got here as I put this disc on for a spin? Well, pretty much the same thing we have as with all of the previous Chemical Brothers albums: great dance music with a fair number of collaborations. Opening track and lead single "Galvanize" featuring Q-Tip (from A Tribe Called Quest) on vocals. Rumour has it that Q-Tip recorded his contribution on a golden microphone. I'm not sure what effect, if any, this would have on the sound. I'm certain it looked good though.

"The Boxer" goes Madchester with vocals by Tim Burgess (of The Charlatans UK). Then there's Bloc Party's Kele Okereke singing on "Believe," one of my personal favourites off of this disc. This song segues perfectly into "Hold Tight London," and my DJ instinct generally has me playing these two back-to-back as if they were one song despite the fact that only "Believe" was released as a single.

Staying either diverse of schizophrenic, depending on your opinion, the next collabs are the Anwar Superstar joint, "Left Right" which marches from hip hop into the indie folk-rock of The Magic Numbers on "Close Your Eyes."

Regarding "Left Right," it's a nice protest stomp but it's lyrics are obviously dated now. References to Bush and Saddam, the former now showing he's as bad of a painter as he was a president and the latter being dead, are a surefire way to lock your song into a specific era. This is a bad thing from a long-term marketing perspective, but from an artistic and historical perspective, there's something commendable about it.

And on a personal note, I can't help but think that I'm guilty of the same "time-locking" via songwriting. I recently announced that I intend to reissue Division, Illusion of Joy's second album later this year. That set of songs is now ten years old and three of those songs directly refer to the second Iraq war and the second Bush presidency. Worse yet, I never used Bush's name in any of the lyrics; in the song "Is There Some Way Out Of Here?" I begin with the line, "They put a monkey in the White House..." I now have the – hopefully unfounded – fear that someone will hear that line in that song, not realise what year the song was written and released, think I'm talking about Obama instead of Bush and then accuse me of racism.

Perhaps I wouldn't find the scenario so far-fetched if I hadn't already been accused of racism because I didn't vote for the first (and worst) black President the United States has ever had. So, we shall see...

At exactly 60 minutes, Push The Button is a satisfying album with a perfect running time. Eventually, I'll have to complete my Chem collection and get their debut along with the two studio releases which followed this one. But right now I look at my house and car and can only see money going towards repairs and maintenance.

I think I listen to music to escape from life. Good thing I have Spotify installed.

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Seth Warren

May 2017

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