After the success of “Group Therapy,” I was excited when I found out that Above & Beyond had come out with a new album called “We Are All We Need.” But instead of being greeted with the skipping trance beats I had come to love from “Group Therapy,” I was instead quietly ushered into the album with dreamy, seafoam melodies and quiet beats. Instead of getting those beats I crave, I was left disappointed. The whole time I was listening, I kept hoping that the next song would be that one defining song the album would be known for. While there were some glimmers of hope like “All Over The World” and “Excuses,” they sounded just like every other generic EDM song being pushed out like McDonald’s double cheeseburgers.
Much like a burnt-out college student, the album has a sleepy, lazy vibe to it with a few bursts of half-hearted beats thrown in. While the uniquely soaring vocals of Zoe Johnson make a prominent return in the album, it just doesn’t feel quite the same compared to their older material. She makes appearances in a multitude of tracks including “Fly to New York,” “Save Me,” “Treasure” and the title track “We Are All We Need.” While I enjoyed hearing her voice in the past, I feel like they’ve used her vocals so much that it’s gotten kind of old, tired and uninspired. Out of all her appearances, I really enjoyed hearing “Fly to New York”; however, her vocals in the other tracks feel superfluous.
The more I listened to the album, the more the songs started to blend together. Rather than create a unifying harmony that flows from one track to the next, they all sounded the same. At least for the first half of the album, there wasn’t much variation between the songs. Many of the tracks were reminiscent of the kind of downtempo trance I listened to back in 2004 and 2005. It was a nice throwback to familiar sounds, but a whole first section dedicated to outdated beats kills the mood and makes me question whether or not the album had much creative thought put into it.
I really wish I could say that I liked this album. Above & Beyond has been one of my favorite groups to listen to ever since I got into the genre in middle school. However, this album just doesn’t cut it. After a three-year hiatus, I would have hoped they came up with new sounds and built upon the success of “Group Therapy,” but the music in “We Are All We Need” has been tried exhaustively in the past. This would have made a great throwback album, but after being gone for so long, it flounders as a comeback.
Rating: 2.5 stars