Beauty is in the ears of the beholder.
It has been a long time coming but Primal Scream have finally morphed into the Rolling Stones. No doubt Bobby and Co will be delighted they have finally lived out their dreams and lived up to the mantle of their hard working hard rocking heroes. Sure the ‘Give Out But Don’t Give Up’ lp touched on many Classic Stones moments and the history of Primal Scream is littered with dalliances with ‘Brown Sugar’ but its all came together now. ‘Beautiful Future’ is the album where they have transcended to that next level where it doesn’t matter if they released the record or not.
The last Stones record of any meaning came in the 1970s but they remain a fantastic live draw and this is where Primal Scream are at now. The band will talk of remaining relevant and being as raw as they have ever been but this record suggests nothing more than compromise and “will this do?” Getting the album out in the shops gives the band a reason to get back on the road and they’ll make their money that way whilst letting Bobby, Mani and the rest live out their dreams once more.
Don t get us wrong, there are some decent moments on the record, none more so than opening track and album title ‘Beautiful Future.’ It’s not typical of the rest of the record but it is fresh and refreshing. The song has a lighter feel that suits Bobby G’s carefree and relaxed hush vocal style. Sure the musical backing could have come from any point in the last decade and a half but it works really well as an introduction. There are a lot of patchy and dull moments here but its not a write-off. There are enough moments to stand out, ‘Uptown’ should really stand out when the Andy Weatherall mix hits the floor and ‘The Glory of Love’ captures that lazy dancefloor vibe that makes the opening song work so well. Other tracks have instances of greatness but fail to capture it over the length of the song.
The best moments are the electro moments where the band focus less on the 70s cliches and throwbacks and tune into the impressive style of Krautrock and the way they found a mix of drummers and loops to capture the Jaki Liebezeit sound and there are moments that capture this on ‘Beautfil Future’, whether you can sit through the slower less exciting bits to find them is up to you.
Lead single ‘Cant Go Back’ features the band in full on autopilot mode which is slightly concerning given it was a comeback single. In all fairness to the band, it seems like an attempt to merge their rocking style of ‘Riot City Blues’ with some of the more electronic moments from recent years. It also features some of the gloriously wasted / cliché lyrics (delete as applicable) from Bobby G. It roars along at a fair pace, it does nothing greatly exciting but it will cause carnage in the live arena, which takes us back to that opening point.
If Primal Scream continue releasing records in the next few years, and there is no reason to hope that they don’t, it should be expected that each new record will throw in one or two high octane moments that will crop up in gigs. The rest will be filler or perhaps feature guest appearances and will be quickly forgotten about by the time of the next arena tour.
And that’s the problem here, its hard to get excited about a lot of this record and it even lacks the sparkle of ‘Riot City Blues.’ The addition of VV (Alison Mosshart) from The Kills on the last record added an extra dimension to a bustling rock n roll number but the inclusion of Lovefoxx for this album doesn’t work. To be honest, the whole CSS thing has tired very quickly; they spent far too much time on the road when they should have been back in the studio or taking a break and the listless nature of their recent work has caught up with the Primals here too. ‘I Love To Hurt (You Love To Be Hurt)’ may well be a forthcoming single and it could cash in on the guest vocalist but it will do nothing to enhance the promotion of the record.
The past pages of RoomThirteen will feature many moments where this writer has proclaimed his love for Primal Scream and there remains a fondness for the band. Sometimes the image or idea of a band becomes bigger than the actual promise and it seems as though Primal Scream have become that band.
Then again, ‘Give Out But Don’t Give Up’ was a let down after the genius of Screamadelica and they bounced back from that. Boy did they ever bounce back, ‘Vanishing Point’ was an awesome return to form yet even that was eclipsed by ‘XTRMNTR.’ That album saw Primal Scream capture the sound of the streets perfectly and for the second decade in a row the band showed an awareness of what was happening and who to work with to make it happen.
The Stones had The Beatles in the early days and then there was Gram Parsons, for the Scream Team theres been Andy Weatherall and then later assistance from Chemical Brothers and Jagz Kooner. Sometimes being brilliant is knowing when to seek help and where to seek it from. This time around its Paul Epworth and it would be hard to find a more important “man of the moment” in recent years. Unless you count Mark Ronson and he should be found to give a kicking to.
For a lengthy album review, there hasn’t been much talk of the album and to be honest, no apologies are made for that as its not entirely relevant. It’s not going to be an album you’ll look back on and play frequently at the end of the year let alone at the end of the decade. However, there are plenty of Primal Scream records that will feature in the greatest moments when you look back on your life.
Celebrate that and tolerate them their indulgences and perhaps quietly wish for one final amazing comeback before they ride off into the sunset…or permanent arena tours, whatever is more rock n roll.