News of a new Prodigy release always provokes a fresh outbreak of moonfaced anticipation from diehard fans of ‘Experience’ and ‘Music For The Jilted Generation’, who hold out for a return to the warped Korg synths and acid house stabs of those seminal albums. And, after the commercial success of ‘Fat Of The Land’ with its MTV-rotation-heavy hits ‘Breathe’ and ‘Firestarter’ and the overblown, critically panned disco punk extravagance of ‘Always Outnumbered Never Outgunned’, you could hardly blame them. After all, quo vadis Prodigy, after the brutal brilliance of ‘Voodoo People’ or the mindwarp of ‘Break And Enter’?
Well, perhaps Liam and his band of merry punksters will never scale those dizzying heights ever again, and god forbid that a review of the new material dare compare the almighty Prodge to any other electronic noisemakers, but ‘Invaders’ does evoke shades of Simian Mobile Disco, Digitalism and other electrofried nu-ravers of the last few years. Have they taken tips from the master of chronic electronic, or is the master now taking tips from the pupils? Who can say? That said, the best compliment that can be laid at Howlett’s studio door is that this latest output is unashamedly raving, nay, it’s fucking barking and en route to the vet for a tetanus shot, at some points. The razorsharp acid house stabs, hyper vocals and grimy treatment on ‘Take Me To The Hospital’ could easily have been an ‘Experience’ outtake, having gathered dust in the Dirtchamber all these years. The title track on ‘Invaders’ could equally have been a throwback from ‘Always Outgunned’. But ‘Warriors Dance’, with its wailing clarinet and vocal sample (from techno anthem "Take Me Away" by True Faith) is straight up rave circa 1991, and thank your lucky stars for that, considering the trend of so many new acts to wimp out as the good life edges them closer to white bread mediocrity. Caution: diversion ahead. Cases in point? The Killers, Kings Of Leon and Coldplay - a comparison based on the progressive softening of their output as opposed to comparison in genre. What was that? They're your favourite band? I've got news for you - they're crap now, and were better when they were unknown. But hang in there, sunshine: you're an individual. I promise. But I digress.
It’s true when they say you can’t go back, so perhaps all that nostalgia is so much of just that, nostalgia, and fans should just throw that ever-elusive strong pill back and shake some shin, because there isn’t – and never was – much more to the Prodigy than a damn fine excuse to dislocate a vertebra or two, and ‘Invaders’ serves up just such a dosage, for lovers of the shuddering climaxes, mindlessly repetitive samples and cone-shattering basslines. So, is this the ever-elusive and much-feted return to form? Does a fish piss in the sea?
This isn't any effete electro noodling, and there's no room for academic discussion on the finer nuances of the album, because this album doesn't have any airs or graces, and thank god for that, being as it is a breath of fresh air in the age of unashamed aural masturbation. These are beats, plain and simple, and about as subtle as a pick in the eye. Ending the album off, ‘Stand Up’ echoes ‘The Trick’, (the B-side to 1996's ‘Breathe’), in its mid-tempo big beat styling, with the addition of a big band brass section, and perhaps stands as an indicator of how age has brought maturity to the Prodigy sound without the apparently mandatory loss of edge so lamented in other musical performers. (Brandon, Caleb and Chris - are you listening? No? Drat. Foiled again.)
So, do you want hard as nails beats and obnoxious guitars with psycho lyrics that’ll scare everyone but the nuttiest gurner off the floor? Yes? Step right up for a serving of gratuitous Prodigy.
Unfortunately fans of the Kitchen's apparently illegal habit of posting shit-hot music will have to go elsewhere, as the assmonkey net nannies have sniffed us out.
(this review originally published on Pythagoras-TV)