Everything old is new again. The fetishisation of the past is at an all time high. Whether it’s the much derided Led Zeppelin worship of Greta Van Fleet, the attempt at a nu-metal revival from Cane Hill or the 80s pop inspired synthwave movement of Carpenter Brut, history is being repeated. In some cases it’s reinterpretation – see Carpenter Brut and Gøst – while for others it’s carbon copying – Greta Van Fleet. It’s a phenomenon for a number of new acts and artists, so where does it leave the stalwarts? The already established giants of the music world are often innovators themselves, much like 90s electro punk outfit, The Prodigy. How do they respond to the growing clamour for artistic repetition with No Tourists?
The album opens with Need Some1, the lead single, and quickly tells us that The Prodigy are well and truly sticking to their comfort zone. This is by no means a bad thing of course; the band carved out their own niche with their explosive techno rave meets rock stylings in their early career with songs like Their Law and of course, Firestarter. They created a sub genre once, it’s greedy to ask them to do it again.
The issue here is that they stick to their comfort zone so rigidly, it begins to sound as if they are repeating themselves while on a heady high of nostalgia. Light Up the Sky in particular is dangerously close to Out Of Space, both in terms of rhythm and vocal patterns. There is very little by way of innovation here, and Liam Howlett knows how to write a club ready banger. The problem is we’ve heard most of them before.
There are moments of brilliance: Fight Fire with Fire (feat. Ho99o9) is as hard as the Metallica song with which it shares a namesake, and features fierce delivery from its guest stars. The discordant synths that underly the pounding drum and bass makes the song as unsettling and likely to upset parents as the Essex trio’s early days. Champions of London has a dub feel to it, encapsulating the diversity that makes the capital such a wonderful cultural melting pot, all delivered by Keith Flint and Maxim sounding fit to burst with their fiery intensity. It’s the only time they really shine on the album as they have been reduced to the odd irate interjection, and when they do appear they frequently sound unengaged.
The album revels in its history, perhaps to its own detriment. There’s too much by way of self worship here to make it a good starting place for any new listeners. We already have Music for the Jilted Generation, Fat of the Land and Invaders Must Die, we don’t need cover versions, no matter how expertly played they may be. It’s by no means a bad album, and one that will more than please Prodigy fans, but feels as though there just weren’t many creative juices flowing in its inception. If The Prodigy are going rest on their laurels, then it is more than justified. However, if history really is repeating itself, let’s view this as another Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, and know that something really special will be coming our way next time around.