Let's go back to a simpler time: 2009. Mount Kimbie had just released their debut EP Maybes to wide critical acclaim. The intricate beats and sliced vocals were in a way reminiscent of Burial, but more joyous and youthful. It was among the first records to be tagged as "post-dubstep" which eventually blossomed into a celebrated subgenre featuring the likes of James Blake, Gold Panda, and XXYYXX. Through their later releases like 2010's Crooks & Lovers and the Carbonated EP, there was still a focus on meticulous songcraft, with textures and ambiance taking precedence over grooves. Much anticipated, then, is their new album (and debut since signing to Warp Records) Cold Spring Fault Less Youth.

I hesitate to speculate on the intentions of Dominic Maker and Kai Campos, the musicians behind Mount Kimbie, because I can't be 100% sure why this record sounds the way that it does. But considering their new home on one of the most prestigious electronic labels around, and the explosion in interest for the type of music they're associated with, Cold Spring Fault Less Youth feels like a big statement for a rebranding of the Mount Kimbie name. Around the time James Blake rose to popularity, he began distancing himself from the mainstream electronic scene's masculist attitude. Even Daft Punk have recently said in interviews that they don't relate with modern popular electronic music and have taken it upon themselves to "Give Life Back to Music."

It's hard to call this new album a more mature progression, then. Because while their earlier EPs and singles were certainly youthful, they were also wise beyond their years. People are still ripping off the Crooks & Lovers vibe in 2013. But again, this is an attempt to diverge from the expected, and Mount Kimbie do it right away. The album's opening track, 'Home Recording', features a smooth piano and minimal percussion. Live vocals also make an appearance, and besides a couple instrumental tracks and sections, rarely let up. Considering how skilled these guys are at slicing samples up, it's almost a shame they never utilize the technique like they did in the past. The live vocals aren't usually a problem, like on the album's first single 'Made to Stray', where they make a case for being the catchiest part of any of this band's work to date. But elsewhere, like on 'Blood and Form', the vocals are thin and hollow, and paired with the confusing, aimless music, it makes a complete mess of a track even more baffling.

It's hard to knock the duo for trying something different though. 'So Many Times, So Many Ways' is an incredibly pleasing instrumental piece, blending a jazzy rhythm section with some soothing guitar before the whole track unravels with horns and synthesizers. If any aspect of their old material is still apparent here, it's their knack for creating rich, full compositions. 'Break Well' and 'Lie Near' are similar instrumental pieces that reflect a promising new direction beyond the expected four-on-the-floor and stuttered vocal cuts without implying that they're avoiding using the technique in the first place.

That's probably the biggest underlying message this album has to offer. Mount Kimbie are mostly out to prove they aren't the same band they used to be, and it often sounds like that. The best tracks here ('Made to Stray', 'Sullen Ground', 'Home Recording') marry the best aspects of their old material with the new live-sounding songs and subsequently sound more natural. The album stumbles when they start to sound like something so far diverged from what they used to be that it becomes confusing. Yet, if there's one thing that kills this album, it's the two songs that feature vocal leads by King Krule. 'You Took Your Time' and 'Meter, Pale, Tone' are far and beyond the two best songs on this album, and Archy Marshall's presence completely overshadows Mount Kimbie's music. I'm left even more rabidly anticipating a debut LP from King Krule than I ever was, equally concerned for how this band has abandoned their past, and worried about where they can go from here. Taking into account how stellar this band's previous work has been, could it be fair to call Cold Spring Fault Less Youth the result of mid-major label anxiety? Whatever the reason, their next album will surely have a lot more to prove.