Second Toughest in the Infants

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Second Toughest in the Infants
Second Toughest in the Infants.jpg
Studio album by Underworld
Released 19 March 1996
Recorded 1995, Lemonworld Studios, London
Genre Techno, progressive house, progressive trance
Length 73:01
Label Junior Boy's Own
Producer Underworld
Underworld chronology

Second Toughest in the Infants
Beaucoup Fish
Singles from Second Toughest in the Infants
  1. "Pearl's Girl"
    Released: May 1996, October 1996 (re-issue)
  2. "Rowla"
    Released: 1996
  3. "Juanita"
    Released: 1996 (promo only)
Alternative cover
Vinyl edition
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[1]
Entertainment Weekly B+[2]
Muzik 5/5 stars[3]
NME 8/10[4]
Select 5/5 stars[5]
The Village Voice C+[6]

Second Toughest in the Infants is the fourth album by Underworld, and the second in their "MK2" line-up with Darren Emerson. With this album, Underworld expanded on their progressive palette, while developing their signature sound of abrasive beats and anthemic melodies. The unusual name of the album derives from a comment made by member Rick Smith's six-year-old nephew, Simon Prosser, when asked on his progress at infant school, the level of schooling attended by four- to seven-year-old children in the United Kingdom[citation needed]. Second Toughest featured the single "Pearl's Girl". The re-issue featured the band's best known single, "Born Slippy .NUXX".


The album opens with Underworld's longest song to date; the multi-song suite "Juanita : Kiteless : To Dream of Love", which features all three parts intersecting each other at various points during the piece; hence, the use of colons instead of slashes in its name. The loungy, drum and bass track "Banstyle" follows, alongside its downtempo, half-speed counterpart "Sappy's Curry". The rest of the record showcases advancements in the Underworld sound: both "Rowla" and "Pearl's Girl" feature club-ready abrasive beats and basslines, while "Blueski" and "Stagger" incorporate live acoustic guitar and light, melancholic arrangements, respectively. "Pearl's Girl" is one of the few Underworld songs to use breakbeats.

Due to the success of the single"Born Slippy .NUXX", Second Toughest was re-issued with a bonus disc containing the single-only tracks "Born Slippy .NUXX" and "Rez"; Japanese editions also featured "Cherry Pie" and the "(Carp Dreams... Koi)" mix of "Pearl's Girl".

The song titles "Sappy's Curry", "Pearl's Girl" and "Born Slippy" all come from the names of greyhounds from an English racing stadium. These greyhounds finished third, second, and first during Underworld's visit to the races.[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Like their previous effort dubnobasswithmyheadman, Second Toughest in the Infants received critical acclaim. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic gave the album 5 out of 5 stars saying that it "carries the same knockout punch of their debut, dubnobasswithmyheadman, but it's subtler and more varied, offering proof that the outfit is one of the leading dance collectives of the mid-'90s".[1] Anya Sacharow from Entertainment Weekly gave the album a B+ rating saying "This is no dumb-bass dance music. Underworld know how to expand the frenzy of techno and jungle and then retreat to an ambient cool. The art is in the segue".[2] NME gave the album 8/10 stating its smooth of touch, sleek of footing and downright slippery of rhythm, the anti-Green Day trio breezily persevere in their quest for Western groove domination.[4] The album is featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[8]

  • Melody Maker (12/21-28/96, pp. 66–67) - Ranked #5 on Melody Maker's list of 1996's "Albums Of The Year." [9]
  • Melody Maker (3/9/96, p. 35) - Recommended - "...Underworld are modest/cynical/smart enough to borrow jungle's finest trademarks..." [9]
  • Mojo (p. 54) - Ranked #96 in Mojo's "100 Modern Classics" -- "Everything with Underworld is in the detail -- never has the introduction of a hi-hat seemed quite so exciting." [9]
  • NME (12/21-28/96, pp. 66–67) - Ranked #37 in NME's 1996 critics' poll.[9]

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Darren Emerson, Karl Hyde, and Rick Smith unless noted.

  1. "Juanita : Kiteless : To Dream of Love" – 16:36
  2. "Banstyle / Sappy's Curry" – 15:22
  3. "Confusion the Waitress" – 6:47
  4. "Rowla" – 6:31
  5. "Pearl's Girl" – 9:36
  6. "Air Towel" – 7:37
  7. "Blueski" – 2:55
  8. "Stagger" – 7:37
Reissue bonus CD
  1. "Born Slippy .NUXX" – 11:40
  2. "Rez" – 9:55 (Hyde/Smith)
  3. "Cherry Pie" – 8:25
  4. "Pearls Girl (Carp Dreams... Koi)" – 10:06


Chart (1996) Peak
Belgian Albums Chart[10] 23
Dutch Albums Chart[11] 43
Swedish Albums Chart[12] 17
UK Albums Chart[13] 9