DANCE MUSIC AS WE BRITS once knew it is all but moribund in the 2010s, so The Prodigy’s resistance to that trend identifies them as a unique breed of breakbeat-driven post-apocalyptic cockroach. However sporadic, their three albums since ’97’s epochal The Fat Of The Land have all been chart-toppers here. Apart from a brief wobble of inner disharmony circa 2002, the core trio – musical mastermind Liam Howlett and MCs Maxim Reality and Keith Flint – stuck together as UK pop’s most enduring outsider heroes. The stirring iconography for this sixth album casts them not as indestructible insektoids, but as a lone urban fox, eyes glowing blood red, feral and cruising the city limits to guard its own patch. A cool six years since 2009’s Invaders Must Die, their vibe is fierce, unapologetic and – the buzzword in interviews thus far – angry.
Exactly what’s fuelled this ill temper remains vague: unless they’ve been shaken down by dodgy accountants, the Prodge shouldn’t have too much to complain about at this stage, but The Day Is My Enemy scarcely flags in its fury across 14 high-intensity tunes. Indeed, were this your chosen soundtrack while driving through any given British conurbation, you’d surely be snapped for 200-odd speed violations in the 56-minute running time.
Set to a juddering military breakbeat made up of what sounds like shotgun loading mechanisms being ratcheted, the title track opens at full throttle, with guest Martina Topley Bird’s stately, Ella Fitzgerald-inspired chorus rendition of Cole Porter’s All Through The Night offset against chaotically squelching synth lines and terrifying screams of “get down, get down”. This track reputedly lay around unfinished after the Invaders Must Die sessions: Howlett’s methods of assembly are mysterious and at best patient, but few could doubt the potency of his end products.
"Their vibe is fierce, unapologetic and angry."
In truth, not a great deal changes in mood or tempo from there on as crescendo follows breakdown follows crescendo, with a certainty that does justice to classic Status Quo. Flint-led assaults such as Rok-Weiler and Nasty border on punk/metal, while Destroy and Rhythm Bomb reconnect with the Prodge’s roots, via the cheesey synths and helium voices of early rave.
It hardly feels like an interruption of normal service when Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson pops up to ride Howlett’s battering beats as swaggeringly as he does the Mods’ own. The track in question, Ibiza, ‘outs’ superstar DJ’s for pre-mixing sets in the Balearic dance capital – The Prodigy as custodians of proper ethics in club culture.
Towards the end, Medicine might’ve been culled for full-impact conciseness, but Wall Of Death closes at maximum warp factor, with Flint barking “fuck you and your heart attack”. Overall, it’s a robust, if somewhat exhausting, showing. Perhaps amusingly, the album’s been picked up by Warners US. Suffice to say: the vacuous futurism of EDM this really isn’t.
Watch Ibiza ft. Sleaford Mods
Watch Wild Frontier
Plus listen to the album in full
For more visit www.theprodigy.co.uk.