Primal Scream, in the UK (or so I’ve read) and among people like me who survived the 90’s by reading NME and buying import albums, were one of the most important bands of that decade. Their 1991 drug-fuelled-psychedelic acid-house Screamdelica record changed British music and culture as much as Nevermind did the same that year in the United States. I really felt that the band didn’t get into their own until their aggressive acid-jazz meets garage rock of the later part of the decade, culminating to what I believe is their best record, 2000’s XTRMNTR, a politically aggressive, profanity laden techno-punk album. The Scream’s last album, 2006’s Riot City Blues, was the purposefully disposable, considerably lo-fi down and dirty rock album.
That back story comes into play as this album contains all of the previous elements of Primal Scream’s various sounds. Though, the philosophies of Riot City and XTRMNTR meet here, and are perhaps even more flaunted. Primal Scream has released an album that only a band made up of realistic 40-somethings who have seen the ups and downs and changes of music, as well as the inside and outs of the industry, and are pretty ticked off about the state of the world. T. Rex made disposable rock with lyrics that made no sense, to Rock. This is a disposable pop album with ridiculous lyrics that ends up being somewhat of a middle finger to anyone trying to take the album seriously. It’s sort of like what Frank Zappa was doing, trying to criticize the very culture who bought his music, but he was accessibly self-deprecating. This is done so pop-perfect that you may think that Primal Scream have lost their minds.
From the glitzy dance hall track Uptown, to the ridiculous Zombie Man, to the detached cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Over and Over, this is a subverted pop album, orchestrated perfectly (using some of the best producers in indie pop right now). Bobby Gilespe, the lead-singer and mind behind Primal Scream, told NME, that this album was full of “sugar-coated bullets.” And the second-to-last track, the snarlingly political Necro Hex Blues, plays as something of the punch-line (or perhaps the moral), before going into a reprise of the Peter, Bjorn, and John-inspired Glory of Love. This is a rough album to review because its brilliance lay outside of the music, and just a casual listen will cause you to love it or hate it. If you hate it, then love it, Primal Scream’s done their job.