Beaucoup Fish is one of my favourite electronic albums. Like a lot of albums I review on the page, I think it’s underrated – not so much by fans of the genre, many of whom claim it as a favourite too, but rather by critics who tend to favour earlier albums in assessing the Underworld catalogue.
Critics often downgrade the album due to perceived production indulgences on extended rave tracks like King of Snake & Moaner. However, what makes the album a winner for me is the fact these intense, hard techno tracks are perfectly balanced by the more chilled sounds of tracks such Skym, Push Downstairs & Winjer, the latter of which features a distinctly Duran-Duran-ish vocal.
And it isn’t the only Duran-Duran comparison on offer, with King of Snake bearing remarkable title similarity to their 1983 single Union of the Snake. Perhaps it’s that almost obtuse influence that slips under the radar of even the most sharp-eared critics in assessing the album.
Buoyed by the chart success of Born Slippy, the album plays as if it were written intentionally as a collection of singles rather than an extended dance mix in the mode of the earlier albums released during the group’s second incarnation. The irony in this theory is that 7 of the album’s 11 tracks extend beyond the 5-minute mark, limiting their chart potential.
Well, I guess no theory is perfect …
Either way, some of Underworld’s best tracks are found on the album; Cups, Push Upstairs & Jumbo especially. The latter two feature an addictively repetitive beat & melodic hook leaving your head pounding but your body feeling great. And the chilled out vibe of Cups oozes into your soul slowly until the 8-minute mark when the vibe changes & you are confronted by a synthesized freight train that chases you down & promptly runs you over.
I’ve always been perplexed by the lyrical content of just about every track on the album & one day I’d love to ask Karl Hyde & Rick Smith just what the hell they were on about. Or perhaps it’s all just better left a mystery, with the songs to be enjoyed as they were intended … on repetitive play!
#beaucoupfish #underworldbeaucoupfish #underworld #1998album #90selectronic #1998