A recursive siren sounds as if in response to a distress call, punctuated by bass and bleeps. Sometimes I Feel So Deserted is lyrically sparse, having only one chorus, plaintively sung “Sometimes you feel so deserted/But hold on cos hope is on the way,” building to a crescendo and offering a feeling of hope, that loneliness doesn’t last so long as you have people who care about you.
Go features the sublime rap lyricism of Q-Tip, and begins with a bass like the slap of an arse. It’s a song of motion, of breaking the mold, of never daring to stop or you’ll die. The song beings with the lyrics “Can’t think, can’t sleep, can’t breathe,” trapped between insomnia, panicking and feeling trapped the song is frantic 3.40, whilst also being an exhortation to get out and dance with the opposite sex using the imagery of assassination as metaphor for seduction. The line “Mannequins say “We breakin’ the mold”/Breakin’ out and we breakin’ the codes” perfectly encapsulates the kind of people who blindly follow trends whilst being enslaved by them, not realising the consumerist bullshit that’s been sold to them, and that rather than breaking the mold they’re just stepping further into it.
Under Neon Lights features the intriguingly eccentric St Vincent, and is a trippy, detached view on a person’s life. Like Talking Head’s song Once in a Lifetime, there is a disassociation from the protagonist’s life and her desires whilst dwelling on how she has no husband, no wife, no bonds left in this world. It’s a rejection of the societal expectations of marriage and the role women have to play – this is echoed by the line “is this really what I want?” She has only the intention to kill herself and her singular desire “all I want’s a view tonight.”
The titular track, Born in the Echoes, actually comes quite late in the proceedings, and echoes the cold detachment of Under Neon Lights and also the state between awake and asleep, of feeling a different type of awareness by having your feet in two worlds, of “being caught inbetween.” The song also suggests a type of synesthesia, of being able to see “rings of sound,” echoing the image of being trapped between the intersection of two circles like a Venn diagram of sound, of “being born in the echoes,” and influenced by the fringes of music.
Wide Open featuring Beck in trance mode, and is another standout track on the album about a man opening himself up emotionally, but drifting apart from his lover. He knows that love is going to hurt him, but he can’t be anything that he isn’t, he has to remain open to love. Despite the forlorn lyrics, the whole song feels like drifting in the ocean whilst looking at the stars. Yes, love doesn’t last, but he will love again, and that’s what matters. I’d say Born in the Echoes is a return to form, but really the Chemical Brothers never really went away.
Monthly music columnist for the Kirkby Extra, sometimes article writer for Get Into This. Freelance writer/artist/maker.