Like The Prodigy fighting Underworld with bloody big sticks…
That is how British music magazine NME has described Japan’s Boom Boom Satellites, but if the electronic rock duo’s greatest hits collection Over and Over is any indication, that tag line is too limiting. Spanning 13 years and six albums (excluding 2010’s To the Loveless), Boom Boom’s new retrospective highlights a band that has continually morphed and shifted its sound in fun and surprising ways since the late ’90’s.
Anyone familiar with Boom Boom’s recent albums knows the duo’s conquered the dance-your-ass-off electronica meets distorted guitar and synth sound, but if not, this is a decent primer. Eleven of the album’s 17 tracks hail from the band’s 2005-2007 output, a three-album run that found the group hammering home its thumping dance beats with unsurpassed vigor. Album opener “Kick It Out” is quintessential Boom Boom Satellites, stutter-stopping on a series of muted guitar and cymbal hits before hitting a groove and not letting up. “Intergalactic” soars along on a rolling bass line before descending into a rare double guitar attack, and “Shut Up and Explode” works up to two energetic, manic climaxes courtesy of some positively spazzy drumming and shrieking synth lines.
The duo also worked a heavy gospel influence into their latter period material, and they highlight it here with two of their best tracks. “Stride” slinks, a smoky, almost spoken word composition interrupted only by a gaggle of women commanding someone to “walk on by.” “Let It All Come Down” wears that gospel influence on its sleeve, at once out of place and not in a way that calls to mind Moby’s Play – perhaps unsurprisingly, considering they toured with Moby in the late 90’s. And not enough good things can be said about the album’s sequencing, where these tracks can sit comfortably next to dance fests like “Pill” and “Girl.”
Fans who’ve already devoted time to the band’s recent work shouldn’t feel put off – the album’s six older tracks are refreshing. An unnamed female vocalist quite literally lights up both “Light My Fire” and “40-Forty,” the latter of which drips with jazzy, creepy sexiness. The best track on this collection even hearkens back to the band’s debut. Over a bed of synthetic handclaps, phasing keyboards and unidentifiable whooshing noises, 1998’s “On the Painted Desert” glides along over two devastatingly pretty synth chords. Threatening but never actually exploding, the band subtly introduces new textures throughout the eight-minute song – violin, cello, wordless vocal calls. Minus the lack of lead vocals, the song is actually most reminiscent of 2010’s To the Loveless – patient, cinematic.
It would seem, then, that after 13 years, Boom Boom Satellites have come full circle. We’re excited to see where they head next.