I am in old-school rave heaven

The Prodigy - Invaders Must DieWell, actually, I imagine rave heaven involving glowsticks, loud music, and lots and lots of E, but one out of three ain’t bad. No, not that one, wise guy.

I downloaded the new Prodigy record, Invaders Must Die for two bucks from Amazon.com, and it’s fantastic – completely worth the eight bucks that it costs now. Forget 2004’s rock-oriented, largely forgettable Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, this is the real deal, with lots of wild, blippy synths and the monster beats that only Liam Howlett can deliver.

A lot of it sounds like their 90s work with better production, but there are some surprises too – “Colours” alternates between high-energy synths and crunchy dance-rock guitar work in a way that does more for the concept of nu-rave than those hipster wimps from the Klaxons ever could.

The title track and the lead single, Omen, are both classic Prodigy: loud, stupid, and completely badass. They do get a modern bump from collaborators Does It Offend You, Yeah – so again: hipsters, take notice.

The most surprising track is the closer, “Stand Up.” It is – get ready for this – a low-key, instrumental funk/hip-hop track with lots of electronic effects sprinkled on top. Somehow, a lot of the reviewers who complained about how the record just retraced old ground never heard this one – maybe they gave up and went back to reading Pitchfork.

That’s not to say there’s not a big 90s dance influence going on here, but the Prodigy throw enough curveballs to keep the record fresh. Yeah, a lot of the melodies are the the same two bars looped over and over, and the production sometimes outshines the songwriting – but what were you expecting, Kraftwerk?

If the lack of deep, moving pieces really bothers you, you might do well to pick up Moby’s new(ish) record, Last Night, which is pretty much the opposite extreme: the sounds are solid, sure, but he’s all about warm melodies and soulful vocalists. And it has a bit of a 90s sound too – but it’s more polished and mature than the real thing ever was. This is the way I want to remember 1997.

I wish I could say I was listening to these guys then, but I actually was really into the Barenaked Ladies and Ace of Base – and I owned both Eiffel 65’s Europop and Alice Deejay’s Who Needs Guitars Anyway. They were both pretty awful, but at least BNL’s still doing their thing, even putting out a really wacky kids’ record. It’s a shame Steven Page left last week, but at least the band’s still touring and recording a new record.

Ok, this post has been longer than I expected so I’m gonna wrap it up. Here’s hoping that ten years from now, I’m going on about how cool the 2000s were, and that 40 years from now I haven’t blown out my eardrums from listening to dance music too loud.

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