Release Date: Mar 31, 2015
Record label: Warner Bros.
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Going right back to their early days with the deeply weird and unsettling 1991 debut single ‘Charly’, The Prodigy have always been a distinctly uncompromising and confrontational group. Their releases may have become ever more sporadic as the years have progressed from their mid 90s peak, however, this just builds up the tension and rage that drives the group until it reaches breaking point and be contained no more. Each Prodigy album is a cathartic release of aggression and energy.
Liam Howlett was recently asked to describe his band’s sixth studio album. “Violent is the word that keeps coming up”, was his reply. He’s not wrong. Aggression is the Prodigy’s strongest suit, their belligerence not only a point of difference, but a source of propulsion. After 2010’s ….
Essex rave legends The Prodigy have become such a consistent and huge live draw in the 21st century – uniquely capable of headlining both rock and dance festivals like Sonisphere and Global Gathering, as they did last year – it’s tempting to think of their albums as subsidiary to their shows. Liam Howlett, Keith Flint and Maxim Reality leave long gaps between them (the last one, ‘Invaders Must Die’, came out in 2009; its predecessor, ‘Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned’ five years before that), and they’ve been road-testing material from sixth album, ‘The Day Is My Enemy’, in the run-up to its release for over a year, as if the primary purpose of recording new songs is to create more ammunition for their gigs. You could also argue that while their shows have lost none of their power over their 25-year career, their albums have.
There must be some mistake. I'm supposed to be listening to The Prodigy's latest bid for relevance but it appears I've been issued a rather mean-spirited but marvellously-constructed parody. "IBIZA!", it screams. "EYE-BI-THA!!", it aggressively reiterates, all but lurching for the collar of your shirt.
“I’m not here to be sterilized,” exclaims Keith Flint during “Wall of Death”, the closing track from The Prodigy’s sixth studio album, The Day Is My Enemy. Relatively silent since the supporting tour for 2009’s Invaders Must Die wrapped a half-decade ago, this 14-track disc has been hyped as a call to arms to the new EDM landscape — which Liam Howlett harshly critiqued during an October 2014 interview with NME. Since ’09, producers have become coveted main stage headliners, a position that wouldn’t have been feasible without the groundbreaking work of The Prodigy and their 1990s big beat contemporaries.
Never discount the salubrious effects of lowered expectations. Part of the pleasure to be derived from the Prodigy's sixth studio album comes from the fact that there's really no reason, in 2015, for the Prodigy still to exist. A quarter-century, after all, is an awfully long time to try to hold a sneer, but that's precisely what they've been doing since Liam Howlett founded the group in 1990 with a couple of dancers, Keith Flint and Leeroy Thornhill.
Do veteran electronic gnashers the Prodigy dare to drop an album in the Skrillex era? With their usual arsenal of Nirvana-esque riffs all but ineffective in a post-dubstep world, the resilient crew instead swerves hard into digital hardcore noise on their sixth album. They ignore modern EDM conventions almost completely (save a track with "Bass Cannon" gunner Flux Pavilion), opting instead for a high-velocity chug that recalls their style circa 1992, combined with the punky, jagged attack of recent M.I.A. Unlike their funky, rap-informed late-Nineties peak, The Day Is My Enemy can be obnoxious and same-y after a while — but what good punk isn't? .
Speaking to the Guardian recently, Liam Howlett of the Prodigy lamented that dance music producers these days play it too safe: “There’s no pushing forward any more.” Though “safe” would be the wrong word to describe his band’s sixth album, an angry buzzsaw of a record that grates and spits for 56 minutes without respite, it marks no great progression for their music. There is a crunching inevitability about the metal-breakbeat synthesis on tracks such as Rok-Weiler. Their energy is still impressive, though, and some of the venting hits the mark: the vacuity of superstar DJ culture is nicely savaged on Ibiza.
From their earliest incarnation as a novelty dance act (Charly Says) to rave legends (Music For The Jilted Generation) and crossover alchemists, The Prodigy has always been quite adept at moving with the times. It could easily be argued that they’ve been one of the most culturally significant bands of their generation. It’s certainly something that mainman Liam Howlett seems to believe.
Some acts seem to stay with us forever — David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and evidently the Prodigy. Unlike the former three, however, the Prodigy have failed to adapt to the passage of time, displaying a shocking amount of tunnel vision. In the '90s, the Prodigy were an institution, a frontrunner for rave culture and in some respects counter-culture in general.
Refusing to grow old gracefully, veteran ravers the Prodigy offer a wobbly, angry album with their sixth studio effort The Day Is My Enemy, an LP that supports titles like "Nasty" and "Destroy" with stadium-sized beats and '90s chants, as if they were what the kids were clamoring for in 2015. Even if they weren't, Liam Howlett and company have decided they need it, and collaborated in a way that makes this the most "band" Prodigy album in ages, something that benefits the twitchy disco number "Wild Frontier" and the aptly titled "Rhythm Bomb" with guest producer Flux Pavilion providing the rave sound of today. "Rok-Weiler" is a fashion-minded and fierce highlight that fits the band's catalog the same way the great "Paninaro" fit with the Pet Shop Boys, and as far as Howlett the musical innovator, there are plenty of new video game noises, wormholes of time, and tricky vocal edits that are razor-sharp.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Liam Howlett bemoaned the lack of praise and recognition his band The Prodigy has received over the years, somehow managing to make a connection between The Clash, Blur, Oasis and themselves. Ok, let's break this down a bit: The Clash - not a cat in hell’s chance. As for Blur, it’s an obvious no, isn’t it? But there is a very clear connection with Oasis.
opinion byBENJI TAYLOR < @benjitaylormade > In 1994, five years into their career, The Prodigy released their second album Music for the Jilted Generation. Against all odds it established itself as the go-to LP for a post-rave generation in the grip of history’s most colossal collective come-down, silencing the doubters who’d branded them a novelty remnant of rave music’s second Summer of Love. One year later, the band endorsed a biography chronicling their genesis from the backwaters of Braintree, Essex.