Run with Eric + TIME

Albums Of The Decade: #15


As Kermit once said (almost), it's not easy being a Primal Scream fan. You have to deal with their delving into any genre they think is profitable at the time. You have to accept that Bobby Gillespie can be a dick at times.

But most dishearteningly, you have to put up with, and stick up for, them spending most of their time being unutterably shit.

There's been a lot of twaddle in Primal Scream's career, it's true. Fortunately, they also happen to have made two phenomenally good albums, ten years apart, in Screamadelica and XTRMNTR. The bizarre thing is they couldn't be any more different.

I have this theory Primal Scream have never actually written a song; only albums. Every record has a distinct sound - acid jazz; MOR pop; Southern rock - but the lyrics are always, always meaningless. So, then: Screamadelica is the soundtrack to a stoner's summer. And XTRMTR begins with a song called Kill All Hippies. It's their 'loud' album. And it's pretty aggressive. Exterminator, Shoot Speed/Kill Light, MBV Arkestra (If They Move, Kill 'em)... Come Together this ain't.

But what an album it is. It's easily the heaviest record they, or indeed most bands, have made, but it retains its quality without descending into complete anarchy. Accelerator, for example: loud and distortion-packed, but still a damn good tune.

The acid jazz of Screamadelica and Vanishing Point is still present: there's some fantastic brass on Insect Royalty and Blood Money, a sort of homage to Radiohead's just as - fine, more than - excellent National Anthem but born nine months earlier.

XTRMNTR is heavy on the production, but rightly so. MBV Arkestra (If They Move, Kill 'em) is, as you can probably guess, essentially an extended reworking of Vanishing Point's best track If They Move, Kill 'em, but it somehow manages to surpass the brilliant original. It's an incredible genre-fusing opus that creates an immense wall of sound then descends into... just... noise. Lovely, lovely noise.

Together with the superb Kill All Hippies, Swastika Eyes is the strongest track - Jagz Kooner's mix, that is (I'm unsure about having the same song remixed twice, but I suppose it's not unlike having a reprise, as many artists do). It's a top song benefiting from a top mix. The second reworking by good Scream friends The Chemical Brothers - after collaborating the previous year on the mighty Chems' Surrender - is a cracker too, though, and almost as worthy as Kooner's superlative effort.

But sod Kooner and everyone's good friends Tom and Ed. This album is Primal Scream's victory. We can only hope that in years to come, people will remember this record and Screamadelica - and forget almost everything else they made.

Spotify link.

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Albums Of The Decade: #15 + TIME