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Utah Saints - Two (Echo)

Back in the mists of time, you may remember a musical oddity named Utah Saints (U-U-U-U-Utah, Utah Saints). The dance band that Kerrang liked, matching samples from Eurythmics and Kate Bush with ones from Slayer, they were on top of the world, drawing the most diverse crowds imaginable and dragging bands like the Prodigy and Messiah in their wake. Then, almost as quickly, they were gone again. A second album was never released and the Saints vanished into obscurity.

Until the year 2000, that is, when there was a single, a few compilation appearances and a set at Glastonbury. And now there's the second album proper and it is worth the wait. This is what Leftfield's second album should have sounded like. It's eclectic, dancey, yet alternative, and has something in it to satisfy the most discerning of fans.

The guest-list is rather amazing - Chuck D (Public Enemy) rapping, soul-legend Edwin Starr providing vocals and Michael Stipe of REM adding a large dose of pure weirdness with some stream of consciousness speech. 'Punk club', in particular, takes a meandering list of place names and matches it with a driving dance beat, with more than a nod to the JAMs' 'It's Grim up North'. The Edwin Starr track, 'Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On' is a powerhouse, with the man who's most famous for 'War' providing a massive funky soul vocal that's well matched by the music's vibe. Almost as powerful is the heavy techno/hip hop clash 'Power to the Beats' featuring Mr D. However, the stand-out track is the dark and brooding 'Sick'.

Some reviews have called this retro, which is unfair. Utah Saints carved out their own unique space last time around, and this time they've done the same, but different. This is not a carbon copy of the latest sounds on the dancefloor, but neither is it the same as something that was out 8 or 9 years ago. Utah Saints are unique, and probably always will be.

Donnacha DeLong

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