A Generation’s Music, Jilted
For those who thought that 2004’s lackluster Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned wasn’t enough proof that acts other than The Prodigy should revisit the (few) past glories of big-beat electronica—well, there they go again. An awkward, passive-aggressive album, Invaders Must Die neither kicks contemporaries off the bandwagon The Prodigy helped construct, nor accedes and goes along for the ride.
Rare are the moments that hearken directly back to their mid-1990s breakthrough The Fat of the Land, with good reason: That album’s digital pop stomp, about as zeitgeist-y as it gets, will never be recreated. There are a few poor imitations of ancient single “Firestarter;” the pounding title track almost works, etched with the same misanthropy as “Smack My Bitch Up” and a subversively catchy synth hook as subtle as a teapot at boiling.
When The Prodigy aren’t otherwise cribbing from cookie-cutter single factories of their heyday (listen to “Run with the Wolves,” “Piranha” and in particular “Stand Up,” which works much better as Fatboy Slim’s big-beat-as-big-band), they drown Invaders Must Die in layers of blog-house goop. Songs like “Omen Reprise” and “Colours” pull so many booming, distorted electronica conceits from Does It Offend You, Yeah? and Justice—themselves mere pretenders—that it seems The Prodigy are in danger of eating their own collective tail.
The best material here, surprisingly, comes with sounds imported from a whole other era: the visceral late-’80s and early-’90s techno that predated big beat and first garnered The Prodigy attention. The tinkly bells of second single “Omen” and the minor keys and reggae toasters of “Thunder” and “Take Me to the Hospital” once found a home in the darkened house of “Charly” and “Out of Space.” Along with album nexus “Warriors Dance,” one ponders the results of a full-blown homage to the days of old comps like Only for the Headstrong. Instead, Invaders Must Die is a hit-or-miss album, meaning it might as well be one big miss.