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Album Review
More Light

More Light
by Primal Scream

Rating

Review Date
11th June 2013
Reviewed by
Steve Newall

Being a Primal Scream fan can be tough, with a host of not-so-great moments rubbing shoulders with the band’s best over the course of their 30-year career. They’ve released a few truly awesome albums (Screamadelica, Vanishing Point, XTRMNTR), a couple of near-total stinkers (Give Out But Don’t Give Up, Riot City Blues) and several that are a bit of both - meaning that with long player number ten for Primal Scream, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect. A betting man would say “not much” based on form, with More Light coming on the heels of 2008’s lightweight effort Beautiful Future and the disappointing back-to-basics bluesy rock and roll of the aforementioned Riot City Blues in 2006.

Despite being unlikely to take the place of anyone’s favourite Primal Scream records, More Light comes as a welcome surprise – the best album the band has made for over a decade, and (just as pleasing) bearing the hallmarks of a band really going for it, rather than going through the motions. Enlisting Irish musician/composer David Holmes as producer proves inspired, as he helps to corral the sprawling scope of the record that spans genres and styles - at its best aiming for the unlikely sweet spot between the paranoid political-cultural critique of XTRMNTR and the upbeat euphoria of Screamadelica.

This is illustrated by the two songs that bookend this 69 minute collection. Opener '2013' welds uneasy hook-laden pop to some of Bobby Gillespie’s most provocative lyrics for years as he questions the role of the counter-culture and its complicity with the establishment, the song trying to impress at every turn over the course of its 9 minutes. While the band can’t quite land the trick in the end, there is more intent here than we’ve heard from them in a decade. On the other hand, 'It’s Alright, It’s OK' closes the album with a slice of pop that frightened on first listen with its bold brightness and, well, cheesiness, but is a clear cousin to some of Primal Scream’s catchiest moments and works better as a conclusion to More Light than it does in isolation.

Between these two singles Primal Scream traverse wide ground –infusing XTRMNTR-ish cuts with a dash of the upbeat ('Culturecide', 'Invisible City') or drawing the listener in for moodier, more atmospheric moments ('River of Pain', 'Tenement Kid'). While the band can’t quite resist more traditional rock n roll elements as More Light passes the halfway mark ('Elimination Blues', 'Turn Each Other Inside Out'), when the record heads into home straight on the fourth side of the LP it pleasantly does so with more than a touch of the comedown ending to Screamadelica ('Relativity', 'Walking With the Beast').

Diverse and engrossing, if packing a little filler, More Light may not be an album you often listen to for more than a side at a time – perhaps evidenced by my lighter familiarity with its second half compared to its first. But with the engrossing scope on offer, it deserves frequent dipping into, and positions Primal Scream as an ambitious and vital group long after this had no longer seemed to be the case.


Links
primalscream.net/‎




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