There are two things that you'll notice right off the bat when listening to BT's latest album, These Hopeful Machines. The first is that he has (at least for the moment) turned his attention squarely back to the dance floor. As a follow-up to his largely orchestral and experimental This Binary Universe, it's a stark about face, back towards a style from earlier in his career. Not that elements from that album don't rear their head - as they do, in subtle ways - but they aren't the driving force this time around.
The second thing you'll notice is that tracks are long. Spanning out to two CDs, this album gives the old vinyl moniker of LP ("long player") a more literal meaning. Tracks are much more comfortable in the ten-minute range than they were on his past two dance-oriented albums, and the double-CD format is more a physical limitation than it is an indication of split personality. This is just a long single album with a singular aim and a lot of (good) ideas it needs to get out. You'd really have to go back to his Ima and ESCM days to find the best comparison for album structure and long-breathed song development. But that still doesn't touch on the sound of the record. What does These Hopeful Machines sound like?
In short, this new record feels like the natural amalgamation of all of his previous albums. The styles are all there, sometimes combined within the span of some of the longer tracks. "Suddenly" starts things off and delivers another one of his dance-rock hybrids. Delivering his own vocals, BT gives a strong and instantly catchy opener. It's single-ready and is a good signal that this album's aim is immediacy. And as catchy as it is, it is instantly challenged by "The Emergency", although this time with more of a club focus. This is one that will be remixed and become a club staple, mark my words.