How The Chemical Brothers’ ‘Surrender’ became their biggest, brightest album

How The Chemical Brothers’ ‘Surrender’ became their biggest, brightest album

“We were excited that ‘Dig Your Own Hole’ could be such a successful record,” says Rowland. “We were excited when [‘Dig Your Own Hole’ track] ‘Setting Sun’ was No.1, because it’s still just a totally mad, really singular piece of music. I always like hearing our records on the radio, because they all felt so different, and they all felt like they shouldn’t be there. We didn’t have to change anything in our vision of what we wanted to do for them to fit into that world. It almost felt like that world was bending to us.”

A year after the release of ‘Surrender’, the UK’s mainstream dance bubble sort of burst: after a disastrous series of club nights to mark the new Millennium, inflated DJ fees and promoter greed left punters with a sour taste in the mouth. The Chemical Brothers didn’t exactly shrink off underground, remaining a huge commercial force in the UK. But ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’ would be their penultimate top five hit, followed only by the atypical hip-hop slammer ‘Galvanize’ in 2005. 

25 years on, with trance music once more en vogue, ‘Surrender’ feels surprisingly well aligned with dance music’s trends again. Out in the world, bad things are happening, but within the sweet inner life of ‘Surrender’, everything feels OK. It’s a reminder that sometimes it’s worth not thinking too hard about it all for a little while; that you can just surrender to your impulses.

“I think ‘Surrender’ is perfectly at 10: all the frequencies are there, things sound shiny and sparkly,” Rowlands concludes. “It’s a record that has a sheen to it. A lot of time was spent trying to make it perfect. Whereas other music we’ve made, we spent a lot of time making it imperfect. This was us trying to make something that just felt right, as soon as you heard it.”

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