Morcheeba – Fragments of Freedom

After nearly five years on the charts, trip-hop trio Morcheeba returned with perhaps their most contemporary album yet, Fragments of Freedom (2000). Their third release, it was their biggest hit, and highlights a band at the top of their game.

The opener is the lovely third single World Looking in, which, as with nearly all of their singles, barely made any impact on the charts. Despite their pop stylings, it would not be unfair to think of them as an album act. Lead single Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day follows with a somewhat triumphant sound, although again it crept onto the charts at number 34, giving them – amazingly – their biggest hit single. It would possibly benefit from losing the “hey hey hey” from the chorus, but in general it’s a good song.

Love is Rare is good, but it doesn’t really grab you by the ears. Let it Go tries, and it’s a good song, but you’re unlikely to remember it for too long. Then there’s a bit of a mid-album lull, with A Well Deserved Break, In the Hands of the Gods, and Love Sweet Love. All entirely pleasant, but this is background music more than something to actually listen to – steel drums or no steel drums.

Next comes Be Yourself, another single, which picks things up again somewhat. It’s relatively late in the album, but there’s a trio of particularly good moments with this, Shallow End, and Coming Down Gently. Shallow End in particular has all the hallmarks of a Bond theme from the start, and builds into an exceptionally good song – definitely one of the best on this release.

While this album was a substantial hit, Morcheeba clearly never got the recognition they deserved – Fragments of Freedom may not be perfect, but at worst it’s just a bit forgettable, and at best it’s really rather good. Later tracks include Good Girl Down, a pleasant, sometimes almost jazz-like song, which is spoiled only by Bahamadia‘s half-baked rap.

The largely instrumental closing track Fragments of Freedom is better, although it does go on a little bit too long for comfort. But in general, it closes a pretty competent album, from an act who really deserve to be better remembered.

You should still be able to find Fragments of Freedom without too much effort – this import edition looks interesting, with a bonus “CD-ROM,” whatever one of those is…

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