Archive - With Us Until You’re Dead

Their overwrought presence seem like forced attempts to solder a bit of soul on to the machinery.

Rating: 5

Archive have had a sporadic, almost spectral, presence on the dance scene since the mid-1990s. With a rolling cast of collaborators assisting mainstays Darius Keeler and Danny Griffiths, the band’s output, spanning trip-hop, electronica, breakbeat and psychedelia, has found a more ready home on the Continent rather than the UK but ‘With Us Until You’re Dead’, their ninth official release, aims to redress this, cloaking their moody beats in a cinematic shroud of orchestral, opulent emotion.

There’s nothing on this album that suggests it was recorded in the last year or so; the industrial beats emanate from an earlier era, when Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode brought electro-goth to the masses. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; opener ‘Wiped Out’ gallops along, driven by an insistent piano rhythm, shards of noise and jittery drum rolls while conversely, ‘Calm Now’, as the instructive title suggests, and closer ‘Rise’ are gentle, string-soaked elegy at odds with the thinly-veiled menace elsewhere.

Indeed, ‘With Us Until You’re Dead’ - produced by long-time band collaborator Jerome Devoise - is coated in a distorted film which creates this twisted edge to the proceedings throughout. This reaches its climax during ‘Violently’, the album’s centrepiece which thudders along like a robots heart slowly breaking. However, the range of influences on the album ensures this is a rather uneven listen, unhelped by the cast of vocalists – their overwrought presence seem like forced attempts to solder a bit of soul on to the machinery, which serves to the detriment of the album as a whole.