Beaucoup Fish (Super Deluxe Edition)
US: 25 Aug 2017
UK: 25 Aug 2017
There was a moment, when MTV was still Kind of a Big Deal, when it stuck Autechre next to Goldie and Aphex Twin next to Dr. Octagon, when the word “electronica” didn’t get laughed out of the room, that the name Underworld carried at least the cachet of the boy bands it shared the airwaves with. MTV’s Amp showcased a collection of the electronic hitmakers of the day, and Underworld found plenty of time in Amp‘s playlists; early on, “Cowgirl” showed up an awful lot, and “Pearl’s Girl” got plenty of push too. Underworld was finding an audience with an accessible-yet-authentic sound that appealed to pop listeners and techno-purists alike, enjoying the sort of slow-burning increased sales and notoriety that many electronic acts of the day would have killed for.
Of course, then “Born Slippy .NUXX” happened and everything blew up. “Born Slippy .NUXX” was on what felt like every episode of Amp. “Born Slippy .NUXX” showed up on modern rock radio. “Born Slippy .NUXX” took over UK airwaves. “Born Slippy .NUXX” made a dent on US charts. For better and worse, the name Underworld was synonymous with “LAGERLAGERLAGER”, and Underworld-as-short-lived-phenomenon was born.
Beaucoup Fish is a product of that phase of Underworld’s career, a time when they were trying to figure out what to do with a huge audience, a big budget, and, for perhaps the first time, the burden of tremendous expectations. The result of all of that is a version of Underworld that’s simultaneously bigger and more streamlined, a version of Underworld that finds Karl Hyde doubling down on his beat-poet-of-the-club vocal style while trimming down the experimental tendencies that Hyde, Rick Smith, and Darren Emerson would previously engage in. The longest track is a little shorter than on previous albums, the beats are more straightforward, the beatless tracks have more words, and…