Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Primal Scream, Beautiful Future

Review by Johnny Taronja

Bobbie Gillespie has been quoted as saying that the band's 9th album is full of "sugar coated bullets". He's right. Never afraid to experiment, Primal Scream refrained from coming up with XTRMNTR part two and made a pop album while staying true to their glorious musical history. The sarcasticly titled Beautiful Future confirms their status of a band impossible to pigeonhole and proud of their own musical versatiliy.

True, Gillespie is clearly in a 'pop' mood. To soak in the atmosphere, some of the tracks were even recorded in the studio were Abba made Dancin Queen. But that is not to say that Primal Scream have given up rocking out altoghether. Just check the ballsiness of the vitriolic single Can't Go Back, produced by Bloc Party's Paul Epworth. There's even a folksy cover of Fleetwood Mac's ballad Over and Over, featuring folk legend Linda Thompson, and the gospel-influenced Zombie Man. There are references to krautrock and a nod and a half to legendary new wave pioneers Suicide. The critics who lazily spoke of Primal Scream's "regressions into rock classicism" are probably the same who'd slate them for being 'ageing' 'fake' punk rockers if this was a whole album of garage tracks.

In recent interviews, Bobbie Gillespie expressed his pride at Primal Scream not being like a 'proper' band. Outside musicians are brought in as dictated by the song. In other words the line-up is cut around the music and not viceversa. The new album is the first without long-term guitarist Robert “Throb” Young. Gillespie explained it with Young's typically "grungey" and "angular" style. It wouldn't fit on most of Beautiful Future. Musically speaking, the gamble worked.

The problem comes with the lyrics. They make you wince a little. Some critics pointed out the cringeworthy aspect of a now clean-living 46-year-old Gillespie still singing about drug vignettes a-la Trainspotting ("I stuck a needle in my baby's heart"), as though he was trying to live up to his public persona of visionary rock'n'roll junkie extraodinaire.
Not to mention Gillespie's criticism of the "capitalist" and "consumer" system. He doesn't quite cut it, simply because you can't sing about “gritty realism” (in the title track) and that we're “not really free… only free to buy the things you can’t afford”, when your band's music has been lent to all sorts of adverts, including Carphone. Illegal? No. Immoral? Neither. Contradictory? Yes.

And what about those titletrack lines about the grim reality of poverty and deprivation coming from a man who lives in a mega-posh mansion in Maida Vale and who recently attended the Mayfair launch of a $250,000 diamond and sapphire-encrusted ice dagger designed by Jade Jagger for use in the world's most exclusive hangouts. It simply doesn't make sense.

A great album, if you don't understand English.

[Beautiful future is out on B-Unique now]


Anonymous said...

so basically according to the nobody who wrote this, if you're got a wealthy bank account you are not allowed to talk about consumer society... Piss off!

Anonymous said...

this album is pants