The Prodigy Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned (XL Recordings) It can be argued that, by being notoriously painstaking, The Prodigy hadn't released a duff record until the self-parody of Baby's Got a Temper two years ago. It scythed away the respect earned from the dark triumph of 1994's Music for the Jilted Generation and the globe-trouncing success of The Fat of the Land (1997), respectively, reducing Liam Howlett and his sidekicks to the techno pantomime-horse that Firestarter hinted at. Thank god it happened. The whole episode was clearly a mule-kick to the backside. It takes a couple of spins before revealing itself, and when it does Outgunned confirms Howlett as one of the king juicers of his influences, reinventing them to synapse-searing effect. Ditching the trudging, diesel-spluttering beats of Fat of the Land, the immediate impression is one of retro, most notably on Girls and its sample of Broken Glass' Style of the Street. Nasty rave sirens, break-beats and quadruple-lane bass lines flank everything from punk to speeding electro. Life with All Saint wife Natalie Appleton hasn't chilled Howlett musically. It's still furious stuff, albeit funkier at times. Twista gives a fine turn on Get Up Get Off, Liam Gallagher is maniacal on closer Shoot Down and Michael Jackson's Thriller becomes the glorious, shape-throwing The Way It Is. The latter track also points out that The Prodigy have never borrowed more heavily than with this set, despite the tweaks and twists given. But it keeps that mouthy loon Keith Flint out of the mix, which is clearly a positive.