CD reviews: The Prodigy; Death Cab for Cutie; Ringo Starr
The Day is My Enemy
It’s been almost two decades since The Prodigy released their album The Fat of the Land (1997) transforming the “Godfathers of Rave” from an underground dance band into an incendiary hardcore punk monster and festival headliner.
The Day is My Enemy, the followup to 2009’s Invaders Must Die, continues with the same frenzied formula of explosive beats and chaotic buzzsaw synths, and sees producer Liam Howlett and his two manic dancers/vocalists, Keith Flint and Maxim, back at their bludgeoning best. Howlett has described the album as “violent and angry”, and the military breakbeat clatter of the title track ignites the apocalyptic fury that doesn’t let up for the next 50-plus minutes.
Lead single Nasty certainly borrows heavily from the band’s breakthrough single, Firestarter, as Flint spits out the lyrics with typical menace over a jarring beat and distorted guitar riff. As with all Prodigy albums, the aggressive breakneck beats and snarling vocals can quickly become repetitive, but the sheer brute force of Rok-Weiler and Wall of Death will certainly pulverise the crowd at future gigs.
Death Cab for Cutie
Kintsugi is the American indie rock band's last album featuring lead guitarist and founding member Chris Walla, who announced his departure in September. It's an apt title, referring to the Japanese art form of accepting change and the repair of a broken object.
Walla's influence can still be heard, of course, in terms of his guitar riffs and creative direction, but as the remaining trio embrace a new beginning, frontman Ben Gibbard recently seemed to quell any high expectations following 2011's widely panned Codes and Keys. "I would hope that as we move forward, people listen with as little prejudice as they can and try to hear the music for what it is and not what they want it to be."
Produced by Rich Costey (Muse, Foo Fighters), the band's first album with outside production (Walla used to do the mixing and producing) has a noticeably glossy sheen, as Gibbard's vocals sit a little lower among the mid-tempo melodies. The sombre Black Sun, one of the album highlights, continues the melancholic break-up mood, but Little Wanderer and Ingénue wander a little too close to stadium schmaltz.
Coinciding with his recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by his Fab Four bandmate Paul McCartney, the Beatles' former drummer releases Postcards From Paradise, his 18th solo album. As a solo artist, Starr has never reached the heights that he did with his popular Merseybeat boy band about 50 years ago, and after 18 albums, it might be unfair to expect Starr to furrow new musical ground.
Joining the prolific songwriter on these 11 original tracks are a number of his famous friends: Dave Stewart, Peter Frampton and The Eagles' Joe Walsh are among the rock journeymen appearing alongside the All-Starr backing band. The vibe, as always in Ringo's happy-go-lucky world, is sunny and carefree, with plenty of nods towards the nostalgic pop of the 1960s. (Ironically, it features a song titled Not Looking Back.) The most obvious example of that is the title track, which name-checks many lines and song titles of the Beatles. Unfortunately, Island in the Sun, co-written with All-Starr member Todd Rundgren, is a loose swingin', white boy reggae number that would make even Sting duck for cover behind the steel drums.