What does The Prodigy mean in 2018? More than 21 years after The Fat of the Land and Music For The Jilted Generation, this is a band who for many years pushed the limits of taste and aggression for mainstream dance music. Consider tracks like ‘Firestarter’, ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ and ‘Poison’ which are still intensely antagonistic and hostile. But after nearly three decades in the business and a comfortable position within collective consciousness, what in the holy hell can be done next? Look at our contemporary popular hip-hop and dance charts and you’ll find a much darker world than what birthed the Prodigy. We’re post-dubstep and post trap now, the tricks that made this trio so revolutionary back in the John Major days are rather tame now. So what are Liam Howlett and co. to do? Make another more or less adequate album it seems.
No Tourists is majorly separate from any sort of cultural significance. 2009’s Invaders Must Die gave the group this massively unexpected resurgence of relevancy that still beggars belief, and it is on the coattails of the goodwill that the album afford them that got us to this point. Like many pieces made in these circumstances, it retreads much of the ground that its predecessors did. ‘We Live Forever’ has all the hallmarks of every major Prodigy single from the early ’90s. You’ve got the pitch-shifted vocals, the fast pummelling drums and that particular synth sound that is ubiquitous with the genre. The album is happy to stay in this mode. From the word go, it knows exactly what it wants to do: Get in your face and be snotty about it. The press notes for the LP specifically call for it to be played as loud as possible and it’s not hard to gather why.
As with every other record the man has written, Liam Howlett’s intentions are pretty transparent. He wants to make songs that kick the crap out of you in some way shape or form. Everything is a fast as it can be and turned right up to 11. The opener ‘Need Some1’ is this mixture of glass shattering, smashing drums and a central melody which essentially sounds like a child trying to annoy you in the worst way possible. ‘No Tourists’ keeps hitting you with thick industrial bass and thundering beats. ‘Champions of London’ sounds like someone took a load of amphetamines and danced until their limbs stopped functioning.
While so much of this LP is regressive and repetitious, there is somehow a charm to it, despite nothing here really making any impression. From the pieces themselves to the artwork and the title, it’s all very much the sort of release you’re bound to get when an act its 30 years in the game and primarily making it to justify going on tour. As you soon as you finish No Tourtists, it’ll slip from your memory. But while it’s on, it’s a great time. It’s an unashamedly fun record to throw on and just go with. Even the more cringe-inducing moments like the “Fuck You” lyric on ‘Boom Boom Tap’ are kind of infectious and amusing. At a perfectly judged 38 minutes, the band knows what they’ve got on their hands as well as what their audience needs and wants. That is what they’ve delivered: throwback schlock that doesn’t outstay its welcome. Will Murphy