Dig Your Own Hole (Astralwerks ‘97) Rating: B-
Maybe now isn’t a good time for me to review this album. You see, it’s mid 1997 and all this electronica hype is really beginning to bug me. These guys (along with Prodigy) are the flag bearers of “the next big thing,” or so all the music magazines seem to think. I’ve now listened to Dig Your Own Hole (the duo's second album after 1995's Exit Planet Dust) several times, and I can’t figure out what all the hype is about. Sure, the Chemical Brothers (Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons) obviously have extensive record collections, and they’re experts at deconstructing other people’s work and cleverly metamorphosing it into their own compositions. More importantly, I like the way they use hard-edged guitars and noisy samples over their big dance beats; Simons himself called these songs a “composite of a load of different sounds with a driving beat.” However, though I’m sure that most of these songs would sound great in a danceclub, one at a time, listening to them all together on my stereo is another matter. My problem with the album is that it's numbingly repetitive; no matter how interesting these songs are at first, eventually I find myself getting bored with most of them. Despite being spiced up by singing cameos from the likes of Beth Orton ("Where Do I Begin") and Oasis’ Noel Gallagher ("Setting Sun"), not to mention an epic, excellent collaboration with the members of Mercury Rev called "The Private Psychedelic Reel," Dig Your Own Hole too often takes the easy way out by simply hitting repeat, which eventually sounds about as exciting as a broken record.