Primal Scream: XTRMNTR

Primal Scream
XTRMNTR
Astralwerks

 

YOU CAN TELL this is Primal Scream's political album, because all the good songs on it are instrumentals. And you can tell that it's a Primal Scream album because its best songs were crafted by other people. After all, this is a group whose greatest hit, 1991's "Loaded," was created by remixer Andrew Weatherall with almost no band input, apart from singer/mastermind Bobby Gillespie's brief "Aw, yeah" near the track's end. It's hardly a surprise, then, that XTRMNTR's highlights are "MBV Arkestra," a sheets-of-sound guitarathon overseen by Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, and another remix, this time of "If They Move, Kill 'Em," originally on 1997's Vanishing Point. That dank, dubbed-out album was the Scream's best--largely because it featured less of the weak-voiced, personality-deficient Gillespie than usual.

For the most part XTRMNTR is the singer's reassertion of force, an attempt to jump on a bandwagon that peaked three years ago, alternating and fusing big-beat-by-numbers and Stooges rip-offs so blatant they could land the band on the current Sub Pop roster. But few of the grooves catch, and apparently the band's laughable 1994 Stones/Faces move, Give Out But Don't Give Up, didn't teach them that rock is not their strong suit. XTRMNTR's pumped-up overdrive sounds pushy and desperate, not urgent, and Gillespie's feeble yelp evokes Jamiroquai's Jay Kay with army fatigues and a better haircut.

And then there's the politics, so thin they make Davy Jones sound like Antonio Gramsci. "The civil disobedience," Gillespie endlessly chants on the song "Exterminator." Yeah? So what? Are we supposed to instantly flash back to...Selma? Kent State? WTO? If Gillespie really wants to "Kill All Hippies," as XTRMNTR's first cut is titled (the song sounds like a third-rate cop-show theme--must be in keeping with their new "militancy"), he'd better start making out his will. After all, what else do you call someone who proposes to bring the revolution with music this flaccid?

 
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