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New Music: The Prodigy
March 26, 2015
There may be some trepidation amongst fans of The Prodigy for their latest album launch, as their return comes six years after the release of the last, ‘Invaders Must Die’, and five years prior to that came ‘Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned’. At the time this album was roundly criticised as the first serious drop in the band’s otherwise stellar output, and so many corners of the music press considered ‘Invaders Must Die’ the perfect opportunity for the band to re-announce themselves after pretty well documented falling outs were reconciled.
The critical response was split right down the middle, as many declared it a soaring triumph whilst others bemoaned the move away from the band’s roots in the rave scene and more towards a current EDM aesthetic with hints at dubstep swirled into the mix. But where the critics differed, fans agreed, as the album went on to be a commercial success hitting the number one spot in their native UK. Fast forward to present day and there is concern as to whether The Prodigy have managed to maintain this winning formula or if they will once again take an artistic plunge.
Opening with the title track ‘The Day Is My Enemy‘, the undeniably recognisable pulsating beats appear to be far slower than one would expect from the pioneers of the 90s rave scene. There is a calculated, sinister vibe pushed forward with an almost constant, chainsaw like buzz picking up peaks and troughs behind the female vocals squawking out “The day is my enemy/the night my friend” in all the theatrically dark glory the band has made a name for themselves from.
Second offering ‘Nasty’ picks up pace considerably, but almost tips the scale from theatre to pantomime with lyrics such as ‘Nasty, nasty triple X-rated/Nasty, nasty, justice a wastepit/Nasty, nasty, keep her in the dirt/Nasty, nasty, making bodies hurt’. It is so close to absurd that it’s only really kept in check by the vehemence in which the words are spat out.
‘Ibiza’ is one of two songs on the album featuring other artists, and this brings Sleaford Mods into the fold as the chief antagonists to the Ibiza dance scene, proclaiming it ‘rotting in crusted rocks’. However, in typical Prodigy fashion, with its upbeat, chaotic tempo and repetitive, catchy chorus, this is perhaps one of the most likely records to be played at the clubs on the island. An undoubtedly intended irony that is characteristic of a band that seems to thrive on both controversy and subversion.
Possibly the most stand out moment of the album comes from instrumental piece ‘Beyond the Deathray’, that leaves behind the heaviness come to be expected from the band, and could possibly fit into an (admittedly slightly rocked up) Armand Van Helden set list. After all this time, it is testament to the band’s creativity that they still have the ability to surprise.
This is rapidly followed by the second collaboration, this time featuring Flux Pavilion. Again, it acts more as a straight up dance track, and is slightly lacking in the usual sheer power and force synonymous with The Prodigy.
‘Wall of Death’ closes the LP, with a synth packed party anthem that is probably more aimed at bolstering their already impressive live set, which often sees near riotous moments from the crowd, than anything else. The thrashing of the synthesizers is almost reminiscent of 1997’s breakout album ‘Fat of the Land’, if only for fleeting moments.
As a whole the album follows off from ‘Invaders Must Die’ in a similar vein, and fans of the band’s recent renaissance will latch onto this with ease, but for those nostalgic for the 90s rave crew they once knew, they may find themselves (yet again) a jilted generation. The caustic, angry violence of the whole thing should be enough to see them through without too many growing pains though.
Vincent JS Wood