Above & Beyond - Common Ground

Above & Beyond
Common Ground

Ambient and Trance maestros Above & Beyond have returned with their fourth studio album: Common Ground. The album arrives in a weird place for electronic music where nothing seems to be really sticking and the world seemingly turning the page on EDM. This makes it all the more important for the electronic producers at the top to really bring something new and exciting. Above & Beyond for the most part have shirked the straight up EDM moniker, but this album feels as big room as it can get. "Naked" a fun song is big a bright with the proposition that we should just get naked. The thing about this album though is it feels so safe for Above & Beyond; They have been playing in this genre for years, creating music that sounds just like this for years and nothing about this record feels all that forward thinking. It is odd to write this because the album sounds good, it's big rave style tunes that could take you on an absolute journey with the right crowd and lights. However listening to it objectively without the pomp and circumstance gives ti a really basic feel that is in a word: unnerving. "Sahara Love" is so on the nose just repeating the same lines as the song builds and builds to this eventual drop. This formula is repeated so many times during it's hour long run time that you get absolutely sick of it. With all these things stacked against it, and the world moving on from this sound there is still something incredibly endearing about Common Ground. You just wish there was some kind of unique feature to this record, even the featured voices all sound like typical EDM.

"Is It Love?" is the first song that feels more trancey, but it is totally ruined by this inane vocal that goes absolutely nowhere. I've always tried to give EDM lyrics the benefit of the doubt, but good lord the lyrics on "Cold Feet" are absolutely awful. "I don't wanna burn for you/ I don't wanna yearn for you/I would love to get crazy in your body heat/ but i don't wanna get trampled by cold feet" is repeated over and over and makes you want to hide inside yourself. Nothing changes throughout the whole album and it doesn't even really flow together like a great electronic set should. There is tons of drama and cinematic beauty in the songs they create, but it's such well worn territory and they do nothing to set this record apart. I really went in wanting to love this record, but it simply is too dated for anyone but the Above & Beyond faithful. Maybe it will work better in person, maybe they work better in person, but as it is Common Ground is just that, common.

5.0 out of 10


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