The Prodigy Music for the Jilted Generation (Mute)
The Prodigy are Liam Howlett in the same way that NIN are Trent Reznor. Their debut album was one of the few albums by an out-and-out rave act that I could listen to from start to finish - every track a speed freak thumping pop/dance song with insidious hooks and bass to move rooms.
"So....To stop my work falling into the wrong hands, I've taken it back underground. " This is The Prodigy getting serious, a reaction to both their alleged teeny-dance status and to the British Governments proposed anti-rave laws. The titles and tunes allude to drugs, crime, and speed (of the motorized vehicle variety), making a concept album of sorts.
Few of the tracks go along with the first album's blue-print. There is much more of a variety of styles and tempos, with some tracks even borrowing perceptibly from the industrial, rap, funk and even soundtrack (imagine John Williams with break-beats) genres. Most of this works, although parts don't.
For instance, "Voodoo People" mixes up a Nirvana-riff ("Very Ape"), with 70's "Shaft"-style flute, and hardcore techno and comes out as a great bit of dance with a twist. In contrast the Pop Will Eat Itself collaboration "Their Law" trudges along on the back of a lackluster live guitar riff, going nowhere, and doing little to improve my opinion of PWEI.
Things finish off on a high note (in more ways than one) with "The Narcotic Suite", a collection of three drug related moods. Thus we have "3 Kilos" with its dreamy keyboards topped with super-fly flute and piano; "Skylined" with its alternating wide open expanses and hard dance; and "Claustrophobic Sting" with its dense roller-coaster beats cut with screams, scary laughter, and a voice repeating "My mind is glowing!" like a mantra.
This *is* definitely a more mature album, sacrificing the debut's vicarious pop thrills for more of an exploration of the dance genre, with varying results. Some songs are stretched out a little too long and there is a comparative lack of hooks (especially vocal) for the listener's ears and body to latch onto on initial listens, but really I'm nit-picking.
There are few dance acts who could produce an *album* as good as this.
The Prodigy will be embarking on a full U.S. tour in April. Tour dates will be announced at a later date.