The Prodigy, once the darling godfathers of the UK rave scene, have been around now for nearly 30 years. What to do after pioneering an entire sound? The answer for the group is more of the same, delivering a selection of songs that plays like a long-lost greatest hits selection. This lack of innovation would be disappointing in the hands of lesser artists, but The Prodigy manage to avoid this pitfall by making their latest album such a massively entertaining experience. Sometimes more of the same is welcome, especially when something so similar sounds this good.
The Prodigy – Need Some1
Seemingly designed for breaking an arm in a moshpit somewhere in Eastern Europe, playing Fortnite furiously, or running away from the cops, the focus here is on the biggest sound possible. With their last album, The Day Is My Enemy stretching a considerable 56 minutes, No Tourists is a much better and tighter 37 minutes, inviting repeat plays. This shorter runtime also makes sense considering the claustrophobic nature of the music, which starts at 10 and doesn’t let up until the record stops playing. Therefore the key difference between this album and The Prodigy’s earlier stuff is not really a matter of style but of production, with the compression on each track here the most polished and accomplished in the business.
The Prodigy – Light Up The Sky
Stadium Rocks Meets Big Beat
There is no alternation between light and dark here, no high-pitched synths and nothing one could really call introspective or ethereal. Instead, this is dance music intended for dancing itself and to play for massive crowds, with its songs no doubt proving popular at EDM Festivals next year. “Need Some1” sets the tone with a manic synth line and massive hip-hop drums, shouty vocals and rising alarm sounds. Taking the huge bass elements of dubstep and adapting it to their iconic big beat sound, it’s a neat opener that introduces No Tourists as an album that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is just looking to have a good time.
Continuing the idea of live stadium rock-like music, “Light Up the Sky”, opens with organs and screaming guitars before the drums come thudding in. Instead of building songs up and down here, The Prodigy gives the listener brief moments to hold their breath before assaulting the eardrums once again. With most songs only lasting three minutes, its a neat way of staying unpredictable and to keep the album going at a frenetic pace.
The Prodigy – No Tourists
Intros are short. “We Live Forever”, for example, starts with a brief classic 90s style rising wave synth line, but it isn’t long before the crushing drums kick in and the rave has already started. These themes at the beginning of songs are quickly returned to add depth in the middle. This quick alternation of melodies allows songs to give the impression of complexity while remaining relatively zippy.
The Prodigy – Timebomb Zone
The title song “No Tourists” has more majesty, with film soundtrack-like major chords, a beat seemingly tailor-made for Beastie Boys themselves, and lyrics telling tourists that there’s “no sights to see.” Here the London boys are claiming the city back for themselves, revealing it to be a dirty cave of rave instead of a truly iconic capital. This theme isn’t particularly developed, however, with The Prodigy more focused on squiggly textures than introducing anything deeper. They then make this London-theme explicit with “Champions of London” – featuring a bass-line that sounds like a chainsaw, thudding multi-tracked drum fills (with insane compression), and an eventual bone-shatteringly massive drum-and-bass beat.
Singer Keith Flint sounds pretty fresh here; accompanied by threatening chipmunk vocals, this is easily the best song on the album. Hinting at riots to come (like those that rocked the city in 2011 and could easily happen again), he sings of “Bassline drama” that “cuts through your armour” and “civil unrest / grab the bulletproof vest” – suggesting that this song should be the soundtrack itself for the next revolution. While not nearly as incendiary (or as threatening) as their 90s work, it shows The Prodigy still know how to grab the listeners attention and keep them alert.
Drum and Bass Masterclass
The last half of the album, spearheaded by the addictive and fairly quotable “Boom Boom Tap”, goes into pure drum-and-bass territory. Fans of Pendulum and Chase and Status won’t be disappointed here: this is music to make your ears bleed and your legs go numb. The hooks are simple, the drums are loud and the runtimes are short. While mileage will vary with personal preferences (the genre itself starts to grate on me after a while) the craftsmanship involved cannot be dismissed. Some may see it as a lost opportunity for The Prodigy to really go deeper, but after being in the business this long, its great to hear a group still committed to making such heavy sounds and not letting the overall quality dip. Its a solid professional outing.
The Verdict: The Prodigy raids their own back-catalog for a series of crowd-pleasing hits. While not introducing anything new, No Tourists remains tremendously entertaining.
Tell us what you think about The Prodigy’s new album in the comments!
Redmond Bacon is a film obsessive and amateur music producer who can easily spend all day either at the cinema or making fresh beats. Catch his writing over at redmondbacon.co.uk.