The Chemical Brothers achieve combustion on their new album, Surrender

The Chemical Brothers' new record is called Surrender, the most compelling and varied record of their career. It moves from the glorious old-school electro-bounce of the kickoff cut, "Music: Response" (their best cut ever and one of the most exciting of the year) to clean techno to big-beat rumble to pure pop. It's actually confusing that way; where the rest of the electronic world is subdividing to conquer itsy-bitsy niches in the market, the Brothers are thinking on a larger scale by erasing such distinctions.

Many of the reviews of Surrender have suggested that it's some sort of concept record, a glance back at the Brothers' history with electronic music. Because it does try to cover so much ground by alluding to so many different musical styles, that would seem to be the case. At the same time, the sound of Surrender only really touches upon on a particular style — your average suburbanite can't tell house from hard techno from hard trance, and, actually, your average club head can't, either. If there's a concept — and there's not, according to Simons — it's that such stupid hairsplitting is completely irrelevant, especially in predominantly instrumental music, and that the ultimate goal of dance music, be it big beat, gabber, goa or garage, is to move 1,000 people in one direction simultaneously. ("The way we make records," says Simons, "practically every track on Surrender, all those tracks were made for us to DJ with, cool records we'd like to play when we're out, whatever time of day it is.") The Chemical Brothers pine for such release, and throughout the record they constantly angle to get the most booty for their buck.

Says Simons of the record: "We didn't have any big conversation to start the record. We just kind of got on with it. In the studio, we have a happy sort of silence. When it came to start putting the record together, when we were all done and we had 16 tracks finished, it was time to cut that down to 11 tracks in a particular order. That's when we start talking about how it all sounds, and the tones, and how we feel it all fits together. I think we were both quite anxious with this record, and it made for a better record. When we first started making music, everything just sounded fucking incredible to us, and this time it didn't sound so good for a while, and I think that made for a better record when we got more anxious and more argumentative toward each other. We ended up doing a lot more soul-searching to make this record."

The Chemical Brothers have cut some of the hardest, catchiest electronic records of the '90s.
The Chemical Brothers have cut some of the hardest, catchiest electronic records of the '90s.

The Chemical Brothers make their St. Louis debut at the American Theater on Saturday, October 2; James Holroyd, the Brothers' resident DJ, opens the show. Says Simons of their appearance, "We just felt that it was strange not to go to places where we might have an audience, and it's up to us to take our music to people who might not otherwise know. I don't know if we've got any support in St. Louis. We're just looking forward to playing our music to people who might not — it's one of the most gratifying feelings to go somewhere you've never been and find people into your music. I just wanted a different tour, see different parts of America, see some different kids."

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