Surely the longest-serving of UK dance outfits, Fluke have been a fixture on the national house scene for more than a decade now. Once, in years past, they went head to head with acts such as Renegade Soundwave, Yello and Sabres of Paradise on their Techno Rose of Blighty and Six Wheels on My Wagon albums; now, they vie with Apollo 440 and their ilk for the lucrative film- and game-soundtrack commissions, furnishing headbanger techno riffs for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Matrix Reloaded. Well, it's a living, though it's debatable whether it has been to their artistic benefit: for, despite the leisurely, four-year gestation period ofPuppy, it all sounds a little samey and, dare I say it, rather dated. With their endlessly cycling layers of fizzing synths and those big filter-sweeps that were de rigueur a few years back - when the music recedes to nothing, then surges back again - tracks such as "My Spine" and "Hang Tough" could have been made at any time in the past six or seven years. Maybe they were; whatever, they sound a tad cumbersome compared with the leaner garage beats favoured now. In "Snapshot", the juddering synth riff is the techno equivalent of the 12-bar blues, a standard form that has become all too easy for lazy musicians to slip into. Fluke may sing, "It's easy to change/ Go out and get a new name/ Forget yesterday" in "Switch/Twitch", but it is clearly not proving that easy for them to develop beyond their old house style, notwithstanding odd moments such as the freeway glide of "Baby Pain" and the soulful choir on the closing, chill-out number, "Blue Sky". It's Nineties music for a Noughties world.
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