Underworld’s sixth studio record seems to have all gone a bit Pete Tong – literally: largely absent from ‘Barking’ is the duo’s trademark no-nonsense techno and in its place is the kind of trance synths and boringly straight house that used to pepper Tong’s Friday night Radio 1 show in the late 90s. ‘Barking’ still holds a few intriguing surprises though. The biggest is a closing piano ballad, with a haunting melody and baleful vocal that sounds nothing like Underworld and is totally out of place on the album but nonetheless is eerily beautiful. Also impressive, and slightly more in keeping, is the bass-heavy dubstep of ‘Hamburg Hotel’ – the only contemporary-sounding track here. But it’s not enough. It’s taken six albums and 20 years of working together, but finally, sadly, Underworld are starting to sound out of date.

By Sam Walton

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