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Four Tet – There Is Love in You

on February 22, 2010, 4:30pm
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“Love Cry”, the lead single off Four Tet’s new album, has an auspicious beginning: the crackle of a vinyl album matched with a gentle machinated hum. Dual harmonic tones reverberate and fade. After a bit of settling in, the sounds come together in syncopation. Then, a minute and change in: uhnnnn…yeah! That’s rhythm. That’s a pulse, musically, technically, metaphysically. And then the tune grooves for another eight awesome minutes.

The rest of the album? Not quite as thrilling, but close. Four Tet, also known by his birth name, Kieran Hebden, is traveling down familiar paths on his fifth full-length effort, but this time he’s brought along different snacks. He sounds comfortable on this album—maybe not quite stretching himself, but at least he’s not wasting our time.

There Is Love in You begins with “Angel Echoes”, a tune that would fit nicely on his 2003 classic Rounds, with its post-rocky tempo, Talk Talk-esque drums, and choppy twisting of a generic female pop vocal (the latter reminds this reviewer of the work of another influential electronic composer, The Field). It presents a nice bridge from Hebden’s previous works and this new one. It also seamlessly leads into the aforementioned “Love Cry”, which is simply a triumph.

Following the album’s high point is its low point. To be fair, “Circling” isn’t exactly bad, but after a blast of kinetic energy like “Love Cry”, a jarring, abrupt cool down of minimalism’s repetitive rhythms sieved through an electronic filter is just not what the doctor ordered. It’s like drinking ten Red Bulls expecting a Slayer show but getting a lecture on thermodynamics instead.

From there the album progresses smoothly with each song exploring a different trail but not straying far. “Pablo’s Heart” is an inconsequential 12-second pit stop en route to the Nintendo dubstep groove of “Sing”, a Zomby-esque tune colored with one of post-rock’s favorite instruments, the vibraphone. “Sing” bounces along for about seven minutes, and is followed by “This Unfolds”, which sounds like Earth playing dub for a while, until the electronics that have been gradually fading in become the focal point. Again, it’s all very much in the post-rock vein, hardly a bad thing.

“Reversing” is up next, following the same formula as “Circling”, although coming out with better results. It sounds similar to Brian Eno’s earliest ambient experiments and has a shaker pulse right out front—always a good thing in my book. “Plastic People”, the subsequent track, shares the same attributes as the song preceding it but is vivid where “Reversing” is languid.

There Is Love in You culminates in “She Just Likes To Fight”, a kind of slight but appropriate closer. Clean guitar arpeggios mingle with clickety-clacks and a vague feminine vocal, all following the basic Four Tet playbook. “She Just Likes To Fight” is pretty, shuffles along steadily, and is a fine way to end this fine album. It’s not the thrill that “Love Cry” is, but Hebden has already established that he’s not making that point.

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