The Prodigy – The Day Is My Enemy
Despite starting out as a rave-friendly UK ‘ardcore outfit in the heady days of early ‘90s Essex with Experience – a soundtrack for the happy go lucky E rush generation – The Prodigy really burst into the forefront of the public consciousness with 1997’s punch in the face The Fat Of The Land. The album and its accompanying videography featured Keith Flint as a thuggish, confrontational maniac, his MC partner in crime and hype man Maxim Reality matching him for aggression and unhinged rawness while producer Liam Howlett delivering crisp and polished yet hard and intense beats. Despite many attempts, the trio have never really managed to recapture that energy, though they have brashly and bullishly claimed that their sixth and latest LP, The Day Is My Enemy, does just that, and serves as the remedy to the poison of stale and flaccid modern day dance music.
“The album all feels a bit sanitized; more pop radio than dingy basement”
If the band’s intention was to make a strong first impression, opening the record with the assured and upfront title track was a wise move. Featuring a vocal contribution from the incomparable Martina Topley-Bird, perhaps best known for providing the sultry and mysterious counterpoint to the almost claustrophobic anger and darkness of Tricky’s early works, the track quickly expands into sonic territory not too far their 2009 album Invaders Must Die. By the time Flint announces himself on ‘Nasty’, however, a feeling of déjí vu, or more accurately déjí entendu, begins to creep in. It’s by no means a weak track, but it’s hard not to feel as if it’s not just a re-hash of much of the material on their previous record. Still, the hook of ‘Nahsty nahsty!’ rattles around long after the record is finished, which is surely the sign of a good ear worm.
‘Rebel Radio’ is essentially a throwaway, though ‘Ibiza’ at least changes things up a bit. Utilising the talents of Jason Williamson – the inimitable barking, ranting frontman of Sleaford Mods – the track sees the crosshairs firmly trained on diva faux producers playing iPod sets in exotic locales while drafting up exorbitant lists of rider demands and gallivanting around tropical islands in private jets. It’s a scene The Prodigy have always railed vehemently against, but also one they ironically seem to be growing ever closer towards. The album all feels a bit sanitized; more pop radio than dingy basement.
There is something of a turning point, however, in the form of ‘Beyond The Deathray’, a reprieve in a Crystal Castles/Fuck Buttons kind of way that heralds a run of much better tracks than the record’s patchy first half. ‘Rhythm Bomb’ could cause damage in clubs and gets a bit meta, with a guest appearance from the Prodigy inspired Flux Pavilion who appears on a track that takes influence from Flux’s own work. ‘Roadblox’ features just enough variation on the brostep formula to keep things interesting, but ‘Get Your Fight On’ and ‘Medicine’ are both missteps, coming off far more filler than killer.
Despite a handful of decent tracks in the second half of the record, it’s difficult not to view The Day Is My Enemy as a poor man’s Invaders Must Die. While Invaders was a vastly underrated LP that far outshone anything from the band’s underwhelming comeback record Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, The Day Is My Enemy sounds like a band running low on fuel. While there The Prodigy have few peers in the world of stadium-engineered dance – The Day Is My Enemy still far outstrips the formulaic electro caricatures of anything the likes of Avicii, Deadmau5 or Skrillex are releasing Â it’s hardly a standout moment in their discography. Here’s hoping there is one last chance for them to go out on a high note.