Album Review: Underworld - Change the Weather

Artist: Underworld

Album: Change The Weather

Genre: Unoriginal

Year Released: 1989

This is not a glowing, positive review like those on most private sites. I’m not going to plug how great an album is and tell you to go out (right now!) and buy it. In fact, I’ll tell you my conclusion right up front: This album sucks. It is not good. So why even review it? I think I’m going through all of the trouble because it is interesting to see how Underworld, as a band, progressed through the Nineties. This album is what they were doing is 1989. This is what they were doing ten years later. What a change!

It’s really amazing, actually, that Underworld stayed a band, because Change The Weather is a stunningly boring album if I ever heard one. There’s not a single original idea on the entire album, and everything from the cheesy gothic synth-rock riffs and the passive-aggressive emo lyrics (”The Beach”) to the pseudo-New Wave black-and-white liner photos screams “we’re a Depeche Mode rip-off”. Singer Kyle Hyde even tries his best to sound like the Mode’s David Gahan by singing in a spacey echo chamber all the time. It’s pathetic.

This is a band that doesn’t know if it it goth-rock or synth pop, and the result is an album that sounds like the Stone Roses would have if they dicked around with a keytar while on heroin. Fortunately that didn’t actually happen, because the Stone Roses were too busy doing E and making a fantastic self-titled record of their own in 1989.

Again, as someone who was introduced, like most others were, to Underworld through their hit Born Slippy (Nuxx), it is genuinely shocking to see Underworld at this stage of underdevelopment. “Stand Up” and “Mr. Universe” are both rejected feel-good summer anthems, the former featuring an inane guitar solo while the later incorporates pointless vocoding mated to a bland acoustic guitar loop. Bland guitar noodling supports a tale of being a liberated mariachi who is a slave to love in “Texas”. Track five, “Mercy,” is only a song if you count the same verse being framed by the same chorus and being repeated twice.

There are some hints of the future Underworld to come, if ever so brief. The tracks “Fever” and “Thrash” are both testing grounds for the classic effect that Underworld would bestow on nearly all their vocals throughout the Nineties. “Fever” also has the beginnings of the synth line that would dominate the future track “Moaner.”

Judging from the cowboy apparel and western imagery prevalent throughout the album, Underworld clearly sees themselves as mavericks of the early nineties. Shame on them. As history shows, they did indeed go onto to become major players in the house scene, but these “humble” beginnings showcase only boring conformity to a genre already in full swing. This genre already has superb leadership - mainly Martin L. Gore and his posse. Thank goodness the UK house scene was on the horizon, or the world would have been stuck with a band whose music was decidedly under the weather.


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