Album Review: Primal Scream make their strongest album since 2002’s ‘Evil Heat’ with ‘More Light’.
There are few bands more erratic than Scottish alt-rock band Primal Scream. For every strong effort (Vanishing Point, XTRMNR, Evil Heat), there are moments that fall flat (Give Out, But Don’t Give Up, Riot City Blues). For whatever reason, the band is at it’s best when it butts heads between psychedelic rock and fried electronica, and turns everything up to 11.
So More Light is a very welcome return to that sound, produced by veteran DJ and soundtrack composer David Holmes. My Bloody Valentine’s guitarist Kevin Shields, also returns to the fold, offering the sonic guitar squalls that helped make their late 90’s, early 00’s output so thrilling.
The album begins by flying its freak flag high with 2013, a nine minute opus that conjures Beatles-era psych, with seductive saxophone and Shield’s swirling, laser beam guitar licks. Gillespie’s lyrics as always tend toward the 60’s hippy-dippy revolutionary; What happened to the voices of dissent? Getting rich I guess/every generation buys the lie, just like the one before..
River Of Pain offers cool middle eastern dread, with nods to Massive Attack’s Inertia Creeps; all cooing whispers and eerie sitar drones before erupting into a bizarre orchestral climax.
Culturecide brings to mind Pills from XTRMNR with ominous keyboards and Gillespie’s half spoken-half sung delivery. It offers a sobering critique of our shattered economic state: Bottom of the pyramid/economic state/working two jobs on a minimum wage/paying the taxes/paying the rent/can’t clothe the kids cause the money’s been spent.
Hit Void is another Shields-assisted rocker, beautiful and atonal all at once, offering such a seismic sonic eruption that it’s energy is barely contained by the recording.
The melancholy chamber-pop of Tenement Kid and the surf-rock of Goodbye Johnny conjure the more oceanic, ambient textures of Vanishing Point.
Sideman has Stooge-ish garage rock panache with a groovy guttural bass line, and Gillespie offering his best sleazy sneer, and Turn Each Other Inside Out is a nice grimy take on krautrock.
The album goes at such a pleasant pace and solid sound, that it’s a shame it ends on such a weak note as the lame Rolling Stones knock off It’s Alright, it’s Okay, one of the weakest tracks the band’s ever recorded (and sadly the first single. Why are so many bands leading with their worst foot forward these days?)
But as a whole, More Light shows that Primal Scream can make a wicked racket when they can get their shit together.
Want to own More Light on Amazon or iTunes? Order via either option below. And you can stream it for free for a limited time on NPR.
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