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CD Review: Morcheeba – The Antidote

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Artist: Morcheeba
Album: The Antidote
Label: Echo
Release Date: September 27, 2005
Web: www.morcheeba.net
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Morcheeba can arguably be called the creators of the “chill out” movement. Their wonderful and highly influential 1998 album Big Calm was at the forefront of a new downtempo breed of electronica that became essential to those desiring hip music to relax with. Vocalist Skye Edwards’ angelic vocals blended perfectly with the ethereal backgrounds created by brothers Paul and Ross Godfrey. The band released two more albums between the classic Big Calm and the brand new Antidote, both of these hit the shelves with mixed reviews.

The new release is the first effort without the seductive vocal tones of Skye Edwards. In her place the brothers Godfrey enlisted Daisy Martey, formerly of the band Noonday Underground, to be the new frontwoman of the group. Recent live performances by Morcheeba have included Jody Sternberg as the vocalist leading to speculation that Daisy Martey is also no longer part of the band. In any event, an album will always speak for itself.

I must admit that a Morcheeba album without Skye Edwards sounded like a recipe for disaster, but after giving the record a real chance, I was pleasantly surprised. However, I must warn you, if you’re a Morcheeba fan The Antidote sounds nothing like the band you know. The record it more rock than chill. I can see how fans of the band will shun the record because it’s so different, but it would be a shame to miss out on what the band is doing because of cookie cutter expectations. It may have been smart for the Godfrey brothers to release The Antidote under a name other than Morcheeba. If it was shipped to critics under a different name and without knowledge of who the band was, I can guarantee that the reviews would be much better across the board.

The production value is strong and the songs are filled with hooks and beauty. The acoustic guitar-based Like a Military Coup is a fantastic, mellow indie rock song and may be my favorite on the album. The other tracks are also memorable with a couple of exceptions. While the fuzz-headed elite will certainly bash The Antidote for it’s non-conforming ways, it more than stands on it’s own two feet. The fact that it’s more in tune with 60’s psychedelic imagery than Trip-Hop sensibility does not make it a bad record no matter how many fans complain about the change in direction. There are flutes and horns and strings and upbeat rhythms, everything you would not expect from the band, but what you’ll notice more than anything is that the “new” Morcheeba is more defined. The songs are better crafted and are not only created to set a mood, but contain distinct melodies and structure that bring them into the realm of (dare I say) pop.

The short of it is that The Antidote is a great record, that is unless you’re a Morcheeba fan.

Track Listing:

1. Wonders Never Cease
2. Ten Men
3. Everybody Loves A Loser
4. Like A Military Coup
5. Living Hell
6. People Carrier
7. Lighten Up
8. Daylight Robbery
9. Antidote
10. God Bless And Goodbye

Robert Burke spends much of his time lovingly crafting thematic music playlists at the Rhapsody Radish.

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