Track 1 – This Is What We Do.
Boom! No nonsense machine-gun beats, a melody so simple it’s almost part of the percussion, stabs of what could almost be the electronically-warped sound of a car alarm, rising chords perhaps sampled from a genetically altered choir, every part does its own job to a T, whilst also perfectly complimenting each of the ingredients.
Track 2 – Full Way Round, featuring Grian Chatten.
Absolutely electric. Instantly one of the tracks of the year for me. Yet another example of Leftfield finding the perfect voice to complement their music – in this case, they’ve enrolled brilliant Fontaines D.C. front-man Grian Chatten, who adds an almost sprechgesang / rap hybrid vibe to the chanted and spoken vocals. He’s never sounded more at home. Listening on headphones at home is powerful enough; just imagining hearing it on a big sound-system for the first time sends shivers down my spine.
Track 3 – Making A Difference.
A chugging, moody, almost glitchy atmospheric number, with a chanted call-to-arms from the incredibly talented poet and activist Lemn Sissay (previously heard on the powerfully atmospheric Leftism track 20th Century Poem) that’s difficult to resist. Can’t wait to hear it in some dimly-lit, hard-to-find underground venue somewhere.
Track 4 – City of Synths.
A gorgeously rich, pulsating concoction that brings Giorgio Moroder and Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream and Stranger Things and many other equally wonderful things to mind, whilst completely maintaining its own identity. Not entirely sure I’d’ve guessed it was a Leftfield track if I didn’t know already, despite the characteristically immersive beats. Somehow even that feels like a good thing here.
Track 5 – PULSE.
I can imagine almost any DJ playing this out, from Mister Scruff to Carl Cox, to great effect. The resonating, wobbly baseline alone is a compelling thing of beauty. Would’ve been totally at home as a hidden track on Rhythm and Stealth, but still feels totally ‘now’.
At this point, I’m strongly suspecting there might not be a weak track on the entire album.
Track 6 – Machines Like Me.
Wow. Imagine music created by an AI robot after it had listened to a bunch of Ryuichi Sakamoto film themes and the best of Pink Floyd’s back catalogue whilst playing a slowed-down game of Pac Man, with a bit of vocoder thrown in for good measure. Somehow manages to match all this impressive technical wizardry with real warmth and a hint of romance.
Track 7 – Rapture 16.
Here’s another voice I know and love – auto-tuned and pitched up until it’s effectively unrecognisable at first (if it is indeed the same voice), before coming into focus as that of Earl Sixteen, who helped launch Leftism on an unsuspecting world all those years ago with his vocals on Release The Pressure. If PULSE manages to simultaneously be both a wonderful throw-back to Rhythm and Stealth and 100% bang-up-to-date, this track manages to marry together Leftism to the future.
Track 8 – Heart and Soul.
On my first listen what struck me was this might be the most likely track to invite countless remixes. If in its original form it doesn’t grip quite as immediately as every other track, given Leftfield’s flawless quality control elsewhere, my suspicion is that it wouldn’t have been included without some certainty that it will be a grower over time.
Track 9 – Accumulator.
You could knock down buildings with this one. An absolute monster. Not just massive, though – this monster has real character.
Track 10 – Let’s Have It.
The rapidly-oscillating intro had me expecting a high-tempo barrage, so when the chunky bass-line kicks in it is unexpectedly slow. If Heart and Soul is going to invite a ton of remixes, this will surely be sampled by nearly as many hip-hop acts as the Amen Break has been.
Track 11 – The Power of Listening.
On a weaker album, I’d be talking about saving the best til last. In some ways, it’s like a track from that magical moment in the history of electronic dance music when the technological possibilities first truly gelled with a deeper understanding of how to get a dance-floor really moving. Another winner.
Though the band is now lead solely by Neil Barnes, a special mention for studio wizard Adam Wren for helping create a simply stunning album.
Leftfield’s new album This Is What We Do is out on Virgin Music on December 2nd.
Leftfield – December 2022 live dates
7 Dec The Steelyard, LONDON
8 Dec Marble Factory, BRISTOL
9 Dec SWG3 Warehouse, GLASGOW
10 Dec New Century Hall, MANCHESTER