It’s been four years since Junkie XL put out an album, and if you wonder what he’s been doing all this time, a quick glance at some of Synthesized’s song titles will give you a pretty good idea.
“Take Off on Molly’s E,” “Twilight Trippin’” and “The Art of Luxurious Intergalactic Time Travel” all confirm that the Dutch EDM artist has been busy probing the depths of both outer space and the inner sanctum. But these are just places XL visits. “The Art of…” is indeed a free-floating journey through the atmosphere of the mind, a chemically induced vision of a most sublime reality, but the utopian dreamscape eventually lands the listener squarely on the dance floor, grooving to a hypno beat that wasn’t seen coming.
The krautrock-inspired “Bonzai,” the poppy “Off the Dancefloor” with Isis Salam of Chinese Flash Mob and the rhythmic buzz of “Kill the Band” are all far more overt. For these, XL still favors the use of attention-getting effects, but the beats take care of business from each song’s first note.
Curt Smith of Tears for Fears guests on “When Enough is Not Enough,” Datarock’s Fredrik appears on “Gloria,” Tommie Sunshine turns up on “Love Machine” and in the ultimate nod to trippin’ out the late guru of lysergic experimentation, Timothy Leary adds a spoken word piece to “Leave Behind Your Ego.”
Synthesized is not so outré as to be annoying; Junkie XL has struck here a perfect balance between the offbeat and the beat happy.