Chase and Status - No More Idols

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The last few years have seen Chase & Status labelled time and again as a ‘crossover act’. It’s usually a precarious position, exposed to criticism from all angles. Most artists inhabit it only briefly before tipping to one side or the other with a sigh of relief. Not so with Chase & Status.

No More Idols has finished what More Than A Lot started, cementing the duo’s position in both the mainstream and the underground. They’ve done it by incorporating easily accessible production and commercially-viable guest vocalists with the savagery and excess of the drum & bass and dub scene.

Opener No Problem is a safe but enjoyable start – cheeky tribal percussion and an even cheekier vocal sample crumpling into good, old-fashioned drum & bass mania. It’s a slightly misleading beginning, however, being the first of only two purely instrumental D&B tracks in the entire album. Its follower Fire In Your Eyes really sets the tone, with swirls of stadium rock guitar amidst a steadily advancing bassline and atmospheric vocals. This is the first taste of Chase & Status’ uncanny ability to juggle attention-seeking vocals and dominant basslines within one song. Each complimenting the other, rather than overpowering it.

A fantastic selection of British vocalists across the album (plus Cee Lo Green representing the US) make each track especially memorable. No More Idols provides a shining example in how to incorporate voice and synthesiser that almost makes up for all the classic dance tracks that have been butchered over the years with the addition of radio-friendly vocals.

There are many quality tunes on this album, but two get a special mention. Firstly, Blind Faith, the single currently plugged on triple j (that’s right, Chase & Status on regular triple j rotation – the times they are a-changin’). This track contrasts a retro vocal sample during the chorus with contemporary artist Liam Bailey in the verse, creating a wistful euphoria with some rolling synths that totally hit the spot. The boys have said they were trying to capture some of the magic of the early rave and warehouse scenes in England – so check out the film-clip to really be taken back.

Second on the special mention list is Flashing Lights. This opens with an acoustic guitar, a trick Chase & Status have used a few times in disarming their listeners for the heaviness to come. Well it works again here – one moment you’re swooning to the simple yet emotional melody and lulled into a false sense of security for the first half of the song, only to be jolted out of reverie by a crude, pulsing build-up that collapses into one of the best basslines of 2011 so far.

But they’re not all such diamonds. Determined to continue to stick his nose where it don’t belong, Dizzee Rascal makes an appearance mid-album on Heavy. It’s an extremely abrasive song, but it might have just pulled off if it wasn’t so cluttered by Dizzee’s relentless and irritating soliloquy.

Towards the end, female vocalists Delilah and Claire Maguire get a look in with the enjoyable, but unremarkable, tunes Time and Midnight Caller. Finally, End Credits closes the album, featuring Chase & Status’ BFF Plan B, who is a little over-indulged on this track, the acoustic breakdown dominating the song more than it should have.

I’m inclined to say that at 15 tracks, the album could have been slimmed down with one final edit. But having read other reviews and discovered everyone’s favourite song seems to be different every time, I’ve accepted the slightly swollen album with the explanation ‘something for everyone.’ Truth is, when it comes to No More Idols – I’m a fan.

No More Idols is out now through Universal.

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