UK based Electro-Combo The Prodigy seems to have the best fan base on the Planet and I admittedly used to be one of them for long time. Maybe even a tight bit too long. Why are they so great you ask? Well, because they seem to willingly swallow every Release that gets thrown their way. With their new Release, they broke their own personal Record (no pun intended) by making it their 5th Release in a row that stormed the number one spot of the British Album charts. Is that a bad thing? By no means, they have been working hard on their success and it is their earlier releases that make them deserve every single pound of it (pun intended). Nevertheless, my amount of sympathy I have for them does not help me with enjoying butched tracks any more, or less for that matter.
I used to be a hardcore Prodigy Fan, ever since the early days and have been literally hording their releases up to and including the “The Fat of the land” era, plus “Baby’s got a temper” and beyond that I am one the very few people that own the Keith Flint and Maxim (kinda) Solo-Releases and has seen them live on their double headliner tour with David Bowie. About the last thing I am in particular happy, because I would most likely not seek out to see them live nowadays. Not that they aren’t still one of the best life acts in existence, but I could just not make it through so much filler material to justify paying full price for the event. At the time the Bowie tour happened, about 80% of their tracks were outstanding. Sure, one had to suffer through one or the other Track from the “Jilted Generation” album, but apart from that it has been a blast.
Times changed though. Back when Liam went on his “I AM THE PRODIGY” (pun intended?) ego-trip phase, in which he wanted non further involvement by the other band members and where he also described their Keith Flint written track “Baby’s got a temper” as the worst track they have ever done, “Always outnumbered, never outgunned” came out. A piece, where Liam ironically seemed to have outgunned himself. It wasn’t only the obvious absence of his band mates signature vocals, what was wrong with this album, it was the pure disregard of everything that was enjoyable on the previous records and while there is nothing wrong to do an album just for yourself, but then for Christ’s sake, have the balls to declare it a solo album. As much as people that are the brain of a band always would like to think that they could just as well do without their collegues, they forget that when making a track and more significant a full album, each and everything influences you personally and professional will change the outcome. Every little bit that someone might let you know doesn’t work or is missing something or would work out better differently, not only leads you to a slightly different song, but most likely something different entirely. It is kind of a Butterfly Effect, really.
Anyway, while many people hate on this album in particular, it wasn’t an entirely bad album. It just wasn’t a prodigy album and it bombed, terribly. Yes, it was number one at one point, but if you ask anybody a month later, they universally hated it. odd, but true.
A while after that disaster it was announced, that prodigy would go back to their roots, which by my understanding would have meant going back to doing “rave-music”, which would not have made any sense. would you buy a fucking “rave” release nowadays? see? What it eventually lead to, was “Invaders must die”, an album that stylistically was an odd mixture of all the styles, they used on previous records and it was also an album, that was even harder to enjoy than Liam’s “Solo Album”. The tracks were just all over the place. A little rave here, then some Jilted Generation basslines there, then some Fat of the land style vocals on top of that. Sadly all of that did not mix very well. Many people bought into it, which baffles me until this very day, but it was a terrible album. Not a joy to listen to and artistically it was a mess. Listening to it makes the impossible possible, because it makes you appreciate it someone would stop the player, take out the CD and replace it with the “Always outgunned” one.
And now we have this thing, „The Day Is My Enemy“. Three tracks with matching music videos have been release upfront, two of which despite being supposed hit singles are of rather poor quality and the third one being the title track, which is also the only really impressing track of the album.
Is this a bad album? Sadly, after multiple listening an all the good in the will to find good things to say about it, it really leaves me with very little to go. It is very well produced from a studio technician’s point of view and the title track is fantastic. Well, that’s about all the positive that I could find. This time there isn’t even an excuse, because as they claim themselves, this is the first album where they all had equal influence on the process and they took 6 years to make this, which makes it overall even more disappointing.
As for the most important part, the music: while some fans claim, that it is a groundbreaking new approach, the general sounds used and the structure are more than familiar to any longtime prodigy listener. They are just not extremely good. You have all the usual Howlett sounds and sample manipulations, but what you don’t get is any good groves or beats or melodies and even if you get one of those, other flaws within the track destroy any chance of a pleasurable listening. Even though it took them so long to produce this, except for the title track each and every one sounds like a b-side from a single promoting one of the last 3 Prodigy Albums. The album even shares one really bad habit with the “Invaders must die” release, which is that some songs are so annoying, that they make start to make you seriously angry. It was maybe the 3rd or 4th re-listening where I had to stop the player, when my annoyance level went beyond angry and straight into vicious.
With entertainment in any form, there is an old saying and it has been proven to be true: “Open strong, close strong”. This one opens STRONG. In fact it opens so string, that the first track is the only good track of the whole album. It is also the first track in years that has some “Fat of the land” qualities to it. Everything after that, including the closing track, you want to forget about.
It is not, that this album is to ground breakingly different, because it really isn’t. It’s also not that it just wasn’t main stream enough for my taste, because with all the “pew! pew!” 8-Bit game like sounds and rave like samples, it is anything but underground. That reminds me of one factor, that made me chuckle about this album, before going rick back into rage mode. Those of you old enough to remember the early pop-DJ times, you might remember those DJ desks, that had buttons for mixing bad FX-Sounds into the song? I mean sounds like laser-gun, cheap sirens …etc? Some of the sounds on this album reminded me much of these sounds. It was kinda hilarious imagening Howlett with an 80s mullet, standing there talking shit into the talkover microphone (which those DJ desks had as well) “this is a new one from my band prodigy” and introducing those “pew! pew!” sounds and finishing it off with a siren.