The opening track of Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future finds Karl Hyde performing a torrent of spoken words over gnarled synths. Hyde's Underworld partner Rick Smith explained how the pair navigated the need to alter music to suit lyrics and vice versa on the record: "There are pieces there like 'I Exhale' that are flows where it was extremely difficult to try and interrupt that flow," he said. "Because it just felt so unnatural, and it was an interesting challenge… if you really feel you need to disrupt this because of a musical idea, how are you going to do this?"
The result, Smith added, was "a very vocal album."
The "Barbara, Barbara We Face a Shining Future" album title was something that Rick Smith's late father said to his mother said not long before he passed away. Karl Hyde told Billboard magazine: "His father was a great man, very inspiring and as soon Rick said that, before we got halfway through writing this material, it was just instant, 'Yeah, that's the title.'"