(BMG, out Fri 2 Nov 2018)
Old ravers never die. And nor do they fade away on the evidence of No Tourists. Still going at it full throttle with casual indifference to their blood pressure, The Prodigy have turned in an album of what last century would have called absolute bangers.
Everything is big and belligerent – from the beats to the bleeps to the song titles. Fight Fire With Fire. Timebomb Zone. “Radiate! 10,000 degrees!” screams Light Up The Sky. Champions of London warns of “Civil unrest! Grab the bulletproof vest!” Boom Boom Tap offers a simple, “Fuck you!” They’ve got the sonic muscle to back up that fighting talk too. Everything is dialled up to panic mode. All the warning signs are flashing red. This is not an album with a delicate touch. To quote Champions of London again, the “bassline drama cuts through your armour”.
It’s too late now to tell them to calm the fuck down, of course. Liam Howlett (aged 47 1/4) has been unleashing techno terror for the best part of thirty years and the aggression’s clearly not spent. This is as frantic and full-on as ever.
Surely dance music was never meant to be a heritage industry? Modern production values aside, none of this would have been out of place soundtracking a new PB on Wipeout 2097. For a moment, “Blair’s Britain” sounds like a promise again, not a painful memory. At least the recent spate of classical club makeovers did us the courtesy of reinvention. No Tourists is 1997 defrosted and given a blast for two minutes in the microwave.
Vocal samples include the usual sped-up reggae and soul – the over-sampled Loleatta “Ride on Time” Holloway in the case of Need Some1. And the déjà vu doesn’t stop there. All We Live Forever needs is a yelp of “I’ll take your brain to another dimension”. Light Up The Sky nicks a few moves from Voodoo People. Alongside these, the odd female vocal on Boom Boom Tap sounds fresh and minimal until that too erupts into a flurry of familiar electronics.
The Jilted Generation are all now seeing their kids off to university and ready to get back on it. For that reason alone, No Tourists ought to do pretty well. The Prodigy have done more interesting things since their heyday though. This is regression to, or welcome revival of, depending on your outlook, the straight-to-the-jugular thrills of their pre-Millennial years.