Since Underworld’s last major release in 2010, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith have been busying themselves with other matters: solo albums, film soundtracks, directing the music at the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. The hiatus has done them good. Their seventh album radiates vitality and a renewed sense of purpose, impressive for a dance act nearly 30 years on the move. The best tracks play like movies in widescreen: the opener I Exhale uses expansive percussion and Hyde’s gnomic utterances to conjure up vast, mysteriously lit skies, while Low Burn creates a sense of awe with swirling synths and melancholy horns. The album sags a little in the middle, but what’s an epic without a few longueurs? The optimism of the title is well founded.
Underworld: Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future review – optimistic epic
Killian Fox writes about film, music and books, among other things, for various publications including the Observer, where he worked for two years