Underworld – Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future

It’s been six years since dance music pioneers, Underworld, released their last studio album. In the ever-evolving world of dance music, that’s an eternity. For Underworld however, it feels like no time has passed at all. On Barbara, their ninth full length record, the duo seem to be signalling business as usual.

Harking back to their ’90s heyday yet still resolutely modern, the musical partnership of Karl Hyde and Rick Smith still clicks and their music is just as relevant now is it ever was. All the Underworld trademarks are still there: the pulsating basslines, the layered synths, the echoey vocals, yet there is something distinctly different on this particular outing.

Slowing down the normally frenetic pace associated with their music, one could be forgiven for thinking the boys have tamed a little from the dance fiends of yesteryear. On ‘Santiago Cuatro’, flamenco guitars colour the otherwise mostly sparse background while preceding track, ‘Low Burn’ is atmospheric, moody and reflective. ‘Motorhome’s’ slow metronome and soothing humming gently buries itself inside you while the fun, bouncy, ‘Ova Nova’ is pure aural bliss.

As with all Underworld releases, this one rewards repeated listening. Buried deep within the Sci-Fi themes and overall space-y feel of the music is an album of continued inventiveness and experimentation; one that resonates on a deeply personal level.

7/10 stars