Barking (w/ Alternative Versions) - (2010)
Underworld's eighth album found the duo seeking outside production, which came in the form of a half-dozen dance heavyweights who pull the aging duo in several different directions, mostly pop, trance, and, occasionally, their native techno. The opening "Bird 1" is a glorious return to form, featuring a production from Dubfire that recasts the duo in the gritty, rain-soaked techno of 1993, a dead ringer for Dubnobasswithmyheadman's "Dark & Long." Underworld have rarely revisited old ground, making this a startling and excellent track. Still, Barking doesn't spend much time there, instead visiting much brighter territory on the single "Scribble," with a production by High Contrast that should have creative directors rearranging their budgets to license. The biggest name here is Paul Van Dyk, whose "Diamond Jigsaw" is as straight-ahead as techno can get -- and also sounds like it could earn its share of advertising dollars. Although this is hardly Underworld at their finest, the duo's songwriting fits the mainstream productions and results in a solid dance album for the 2010s -- music for aging-raver activities like driving cars, pushing swings, or jogging on treadmills.
CD 1 - The Album
CD 2 - The Alternative Versions