Calling your album No Tourists, suggests that you have no time for people who are mere onlookers or passengers. There’s no value in this life in hanging about for the ride and the easily-Instagrammable opportunities. Featuring a Routemaster bus on your album cover, on the other hand, displaying the name of the venue at which you played your first show, (The Four Aces in Dalston) does rather suggest that there’s a nostalgic angle on offer from The Prodigy’s latest offering, like those red bus tours you can hop on in most heritage-rich cities of Britain.
In terms of Prodigy tourism, we do, in effect, head back to the early-to-mid-90s, but temporary escapism is the finest type of travel in which you can indulge in 2018. Whoever said, “The future’s bright; the future’s orange,” had no idea how wrong that assertion was. Modern life is rubbish, so all credit to The Prodigy for taking us back to a palpably different millennium. ‘We Live Forever’ sounds like it’s straight off Experience. If it were to segue into ‘Out of Space’ or start to give ‘Charley Says’ stranger-danger messages, or if it demanded that you pay close attention and it promised to take your brain to another dimension, then you wouldn’t even blink.
‘Need Some1’ is a fittingly daring opening. It dares you to lose your shit from the off and not consider re-finding it until the album has radiated, resonated and palpitated. It’s either the soundtrack to a mad night out, or to a medical emergency. Leading into ‘Light Up The Sky’, in which we are instructed to “illuminate,” we’re definitely on the top deck of the Routemaster, checking out the familiar soundscape from the Music For The Jilted Generation era.
But to complain because we’re getting familiar sounds from Liam Howlett and co would be mightily churlish. Imagine a red bus tour operator that said, “There’s really interesting stuff that’s been there a while and has some cultural weight to it, you know – but do people really want to see it when they come here? Surely they’ve read about the castle or the cathedral, or looked it up online? Why don’t we take people to see the new stuff. That retail park’s new. It’s got a Toby Carvery…”
‘No Tourists’ is perhaps what a Prodigy Bond theme would sound like and ‘Resonate’ begins with a reggae Dalek singing along to the sound of R2D2 going through a bandsaw and ends with shades of The Chemical Brothers’ 1995 ‘Leave Home’. In the middle of the album, ‘Timebomb Zone’ is basically a critical incident drill at Kiss FM in musical form.
These are prodigious times, more in the Shakespearean sense of being monstrous than the modern implication of greatness. We’re talking about three men in their late-forties or early-fifties. Two of them are called Keith. It sounds more likely that we’re building a scene from that sitcom about metal detecting than the synopsis for a work of splendid, spiky techno. There should still be plenty of room in all our cold, cold hearts for The Prodigy and how their “bassline drama, cuts through your armour.”
No Tourists is out now via BMG/Take Me To The Hospital