Chase and Status have gotten a pretty bad rap of late. Underground dance aficionados are often the quickest fans to cry sell out, and now that the drum and bass duo are producers for the likes of UK X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke, Rita Ora, and Rihanna, whom they met through ‘writing camps’ held by the team who started out working with S Club 7 and have now graduated to the likes of Katy Perry, fans are less than impressed. Their third studio album, Brand New Machine, is a desperate attempt at holding on to the underground dance scene; an attempt that achieves pretty much the opposite.
Chase and Status, a British electronic music production duo, started out as a liquid drum and bass act, with several number one singles on the UK Dance Chart between 2007 – 2009, before evolving to a more commercialized club/dance sound with the release of their first album, More Than Alot. Despite this change in sound, this album still reached number 49 on the UK Albums Chart, number two on the UK Dance Album Chart, and received the Best Album Award at the 2009 Drum and Bass award. Their second album, No More Idols, did even better, debuting at number two on the UK Albums Chart and was certified Gold in the first week of sales. Chase and Status have collaborated with the likes Plan B, Cee Lo Green, Rihanna, Example, Tinie Tempah, and Dizzee Rascal, to name but a few, so it’s safe to say with their huge success in previous years, Brand New Machine is a highly anticipated release.
Chase and Status have pitched Brand New Machine as a sort of tribute to 90s dance music, and that is definitely apparent. Tracks like the album’s second single, Count On Me, featuring Moko, and Deeper Devotion are obvious throwbacks, if not to the hardcore dance music of the era, then definitely to the PG-rated versions played on the radio. The track Blk & Blu featuring Ed Thomas is obviously influenced heavily by pop-garage of the early-noughties, and though not an unpleasant track, it’s certainly nothing to write home about.
The genre which works best for Chase and Status is trip-hop, a genre they are most familiar with. The tracks Heaven Knows, Like That, What Is Right, and Lost And Not Found are all influenced by trip hop to varying degrees. Lost And Not Found featuring Louis M^tters, the lead single from the album, is a great example of when Chase and Status do it right, and it is so good. Vocals soar over hurtling electronics, and it’s the type of song that makes you want to just close your eyes and move. Heaven Knows, featuring Elli Ingram, on the other hand, is an example of when it does not work. It’s like they’ve tried to meld trip hop and hard rock, and the song lurches uncomfortably from double bass and dubby reverb to crashing guitars.
Both of Chase and Status’s previous albums have been a bit of a mish-mash of genres, and it’s worked really well for them, so that’s not my problem with Brand New Machine. Some of the songs are great; International is a fantastic tune, mixing reggae samples with drum and bass, and Lost and Not Found and Alive featuring Jacob Banks are beautiful pop/dance tracks. But that’s the problem right there: the tracks that work are POP music. Chase and Status have tried so hard to get back to their drum and bass roots, but they’ve obviously evolved into something else. I say embrace it, because these poppy dance tracks are pretty much the only ones that truly work on Brand New Machine.
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