On "Desksandrumsandrockandroll" the Propellerheads -- the U.K. techno scene's flavor of the second -- seem poised to take their big-beat/trip-hop vision to the masses. The British duo of Alex Gifford and Will White has taken to using a live drummer to lay down grooves over percussion loops to accompany the requisite samples, synths and instruments. Despite some highly innovative moments, the album sometimes indicates a tendency toward electronica clichés.
"Take California" leads off the disc with massive breakbeats and a hypnotic bassline that create a very pleasurable experience for the listener, but their attempts at the now passe spy-theme fad are dated. Even the great Shirley Bassey's vocals on "History Repeating" sound cheesy and should have been left in the vaults. Redemption comes in the form of "Bang On," a furious blast of noisy guitars, hyperactive beats and acidic tones that is pure adrenaline. All told, the Propellerheads are at their best when moving their sound forward, not sticking their heads into the past.