Orbital has returned with Wonky, their first album since 2004 (Blue Album)– that is imminently listenable, and very much Orbital. However, it also conveys interesting hints of past musical goodness. Wonky opens with “One Big Moment,” a light, vaguely magical bit of poppy electro that wants to be part of a soundtrack for some happy go lucky teen coming of age film. It is then followed, however, by “Straight Sun,” whose slightly more somber sound and beat recall bits of Oakenfold’s best-selling Bunkka album, or the Swordfish soundtrack. This one wants you go be down and dirty, rocking away until all hours in some dark, sweaty club. Ideally, the song would never end.
The rest of Wonky carries forward the undulating emotional ride, interspersing lush, poppy fluff with more dance-oriented, darker works – and then balancing both with songs clearly designed to let the listener rest and just be. One highlight is the “Distractions,” in which a slow, grindy beat is complemented by an airy, haunting vocal and supported with a frenetic synth undercurrent that brings to mind a fast-flying train running deep beneath a dark city, the energy of the whole combining to paint an aural picture of life in a modern metropolis. Similarly, “Beelzedub” brings to mind creates a dark, dub-step influenced specter, a seedy sonic underbelly that begs the listener to enter.