Whenever anybody asks me to describe The Chemical Brothers, I find it quite difficult. “Um, they’re kinda spacey and electro-y, but also have some, like, really mental songs… and some songs which are kinda rocky really.” This terrible description doesn’t usually convert anybody to the band, but I will still fight the good fight because I think they make the most diverse, engaging and immersive music I’ve ever heard.
I am surprised they don’t come up more often when I see people talk about music. Even when I talk about them, the reaction I usually get is, “Oh yeah, that’s the band that did X, right?” X usually being a different song every time I ask the question. And I always say “YES! But they have so many other good songs like that!” People seem to like what they hear, but sadly never look much further in to them. Well, here you’ve got no choice. I’m going to force you.
I’ll start by counting down my top five favourite Chemical Brothers songs. I would insist that you pop in some headphones and really dedicate a chunk of your time to listen to this in order to really appreciate it. Get lost for a while.
The Salmon Dance
We Are the Night
This is probably The Chemical Brothers’ most accessible song. It was certainly the first one that I ever heard. I remember that, at that age, I didn’t quite get electronic music – but the song definitely stuck with me for many years until I rediscovered the band. The beat is so catchy and the plain weird subject matter of the lyrics reels you in like the fat little trout you are.
Born in the Echoes
This one always reminds me of Sonic the Hedgehog. The melody is a lot more poppy and you will either love that or hate it. Personally, it made me think of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, which was the feel good hit of the Summer. This song is the same to me. I was listening to it the entire time the sun was shining over beautiful Britain and made some incredible memories last year. It will always have a special place in my heart for that.
Sometimes I Feel So Deserted
Born In the Echoes
This song was paired with Go as my soundtrack to the Summer last year. I just saw the video for this song, though. Really weird. The Chemical Brothers have some amazing music videos, but the ones from their newest album weren’t as good for some reason.
Push the Button
This is more what I associated with The Chemical Brothers’ sound. In your face, loud, kinda scary, full-on electro. I want to go to a silent disco where they just play these kinds of Chemical Brothers songs on repeat and get absolutely shitfaced.
We Are the Night
While Believe sums up the sort of sound I associate with The Chemical Brothers, Saturate encompasses what I love about them best. Personally, I am a ‘spacey’ electro kind of guy. My favourite songs are ones that you can get lost in. Saturate kills me every time because the melody is just so precise, so satisfying. And then the drop happens and, well, you’re on your own after that.
So those are my favourite songs – they should give you a very broad overview of the type of music The Chemical Brothers make. But it is by no means a comprehensive list. There are so many other songs I could have included in this list – this is a mere taste of what is in store for you. To give you a nice jumping off point for diving in to their albums, have a look below.
I already included Swoon as my number one love song of all time, but the album it’s on hosts so many more sublime songs. I would strongly encourage you to watch the entire album’s music videos on YouTube, because they will lead you down a rabbit hole. I have watched the full thing many times – transfixed. Described by people like my mother as “that bloody noise,” this album made me find a whole new appreciation for music as an artform when I started to really think about what kind of genius you must have to be able to even conceive of putting these sounds next to each other, on top of each other, whatever, and come out with something so genuinely moving – I have been moved to tears by The Chemical Brothers more times than I can remember.
Born in the Echoes (2015)
Now most fans of The Chemical Brothers are not going to agree with this choice – and I will admit, this album does have some rubbish songs on it (which surprised me because I began to believe this band were legitimately infallible). But it does have a couple of real bangers on there. Other than Go and Sometimes I Feel So Deserted, it’s got EML Ritual and Wide Open. While I agree that overall this album is definitely the weakest of The Chemical Brothers, the few good songs on there really push it up in my estimations.
Exit Planet Dust (1995)
At the beginning of their career, the band were called The Dust Brothers. They had to change their name, though, because they got big enough for people to confused with a different artist with the same name. Their debut album was called Exit Planet Dust, and what an exit it was. The Chemical Brothers stormed on to the electronic music scene with some serious funk. Immediately stamping their unadulterated electro workshoppy (a term I just made up) sound on the world, they laid the groundwork for the more experimental and diverse music that was to come in the years ahead. If you wanna just bop around the room for a while, shove this one on.
So that should give you a good starting point for the band. But, to be honest, just listening to my favourite songs by them is only going to be half of the experience of getting in to this band. Their music spans genres – it makes you feel something on a personal level. You just have to put in the time to find their gems. The best way to listen to The Chemical Brothers it to click this link, and start picking whichever ones you like the sound of.