The Essex dance-punk trio return with a typically brutal new single and an album to follow but can they ever regain the relevance they had in the 90’s?
Some 25 years ago 19 year old raver and classically trained pianist Liam Howlett created a demo tape of various tracks he’d made on a Moog Prodigy synthesiser which ended up in the hands of a guy he’d met on the Essex party scene called Keith Flint. He liked what he heard so much he went back to Howlett and insisted they form a group together with Flint and his friend Leeroy Thornhill as the dancers and MC’s.
Naming themselves after the Moog synth they soon came to the attention of XL Recordings boss Nick Halkes. Their second single ‘Charly’ was released just as dance music was exploding in to the British mainstream and became a huge hit and over the next few years The Prodigy would have a string of chart successes with their aggressive, frenetic sound, becoming festival favourites and winning various awards along the way. They made some of the most urgent and compelling music of that decade and in doing so violently crashed the boundaries between dance, rock, punk, and pop music leaving their mark on a whole generation of party-going music lovers.
And so here they are in 2015, back with a forthcoming album The Day Is My Enemy and this the lead single. Aside from the excellent video, involving an urban fox turning the tables on his would-be hunters, what we get is the band in fairly familiar territory. The track crash, bangs and wallops in splenetic fashion with Flint’s refrain of “nasty nasty, triple x-rated” coming over like a jab in the ear with a sharp pencil. Whilst it’s all enjoyable enough it’s no great evolutionary leap forward for the band and wouldn’t have sounded out of place on any of their 90’s albums. The Prodigy are kind of like the AC/DC of dance music insomuch as they know what works for them and they tend to stick pretty rigidly to it. This is in many ways a virtue but it does leave you wondering where they fit in in a post-grime, post-dubstep world. Will this rudely crash the charts in the way ‘Firestarter’ did all those years ago? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good to have them back anyway. 25 years on they’re still giving us the musical middle-finger and still sounding like they absolutely love it. Expect to see them at a festival near you this summer…