Karl Hyde and Rick Smith have resurfaced from the underground (or Underworld if you prefer!) - with “Barking”, their 8th studio album. The album features top trance act Paul van Dyk among others on production duties, mainly as the tracks were written, then farmed out to producers to add their skills.

“Scribble” - an incarnation of one of their favoured live show tracks over the last few years features here. It is “Scribble” to which I turn first, as truth be told, this is the choice cut on this slab of musical meat. Unfortunately, “Scribble” aside, this album could almost be deemed the laziest effort done under the Underworld moniker I have heard. True it is more polished than its predecessors - but to me that was never Underworld's charm - it was rawness.

High Contrast, a Welsh drum'n'bass producer, has managed to create a track of uplifting drum'n'bass so euphoric that it is hard not to punch the sky at certain points in the track. “Moon in Water” seems to highlight the shift in emphasis by Underworld to a slower, more melodic sound - unlike the techno-steps of a decade or so ago. The slurred and slightly out of synch voice that narrates through the track seems to guide you through the trance-like backing track; more like that could have been needed on others…

“Between Stars” is also a decent tune, quite piano tinkley, with the trademark Hyde vocals over the top. It goes for the feet, not the jugular, but is all the better for it. “Diamond Jigsaw” is the track I prayed would never come - it seems bloated and tame - the anarchic passion in lyrics such as “shouting lager, lager, lager” really start to feel like an eon ago! At risk of alienating a few readers here I have to say that a lot of this album passed me by, without registering any real emotion - the first couple of tracks simply fluttered by; pleasant but ultimately saccharine, and these weren’t alone - “Louisiana” is a nice track, but really no more than a B-side compared to previous work. I don’t know where to lay blame - with Underworld for passing on the producing duties, which could seem to smack of laziness - or of the producers, who, knowing it was Underworld they were dealing with, went straight for the "safe" button - making a commercially viable, yet ultimately flat record.