If a group has created one truly great song, they deserve some sort of artistic pass that allows them to make not-so-great music for at least a couple of years afterward. 808 State -- with the groundbreaking "Cubik" and "Pacific" -- made at least two truly great songs. Problem is, those acid-house masterpieces were crafted nearly 15 years ago and that makes it a little hard to grant a pass for the State's new album. Though Graham Massey and Co. have been laying somewhat low for the past few years, "Outpost Transmission" isn't exactly the return to form one would have hoped for. Actually, the problem is that it's "too much" of a return to form. "Outpost" is a lovingly crafted, electro postcard from the past, knee-deep in the Manchester techno sounds that Massey helped pioneer, with little evidence of the ample modernity he's displayed on remixes for the likes of Björk and Future Sound of London. Occasionally, a track like "Wheatstraw" illuminates some off-kilter daring, but largely, "Outpost" sounds as if it was being beamed in from a time long, long ago.
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