Last month saw the release of the third studio album from one of electronic music’s greatest acts. Although 2002 seemed to see progressive house duo Leftfield as done for good, in 2010 Neil Barnes revived the project, with previous musical partner Paul Daley declining to focus on his solo career. In March, Alternative Light Source‘s lead single was premiered on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 show, and on June 8th the follow up to Mercury nominated Leftism and Rhythm And Stealth was released via Infectious Music.
Though it might’ve been twenty years since the outfit released its first album, this ten track offering transparently shows that they’re still as up to date as ever, almost every track displaying the power of single-worthy electronica carrying atmosphere as deeply as vocal-dominant tracks. Take opening Bad Radio, a dark synth opening leading out and expanding into progressive house, deep AutoTuned vocals playing around in the song’s undertones.
Not falling into the trap of monotonous sound, Universal Everything does an excellent job of dancing around with the subtlest repeated changes and minute variations to form a work that seems to warp any sense of time with its compelling beat. Before you know it you’ll find the seven minute epic will have been and gone.
Though each track holds a different level of intrigue and depth for exploration, there’s little more to say on the album other than it being Leftfield’s best work to date, and often being rather left field in its approach to electronic music. The once blow on the otherwise untarnished album is in fourth Head And Shoulders, where questionable and straight up weird vocals beat up a fantastic instrumental. As I say, this album does somewhat dip into the pool of experimental, but lyrics that would be more suited to an angsty, grungey, garage punk band feel like they’re overstepping the mark. It’s certainly “out there”.
If it weren’t for the slight blip that is Head And Shoulders, I’d put this in my top albums of the year so far. As it is, it’s still well worth a listen, and suits as either as an invigorating motivation record, or a pre-night out one. Or, hell, make it your night out.