Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned
Following a relatively quiet seven year hiatus, Prodigy returns with a vengeance on their newest assault. Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned finds programming mastermind Liam Howlett returning to form with the kind of production qualities that made Prodigy among the best in the genre. The album’s vicious opener, “Spitfire,” sets the tone for the best musical mayhem on the planet. Groundbreaking bass and angst driven vocals performed by Juliet Lewis combine to release a heart stopping wall of sound. The drum loops are as intense as they get, only partially subduded by sporadic female vocal samples. I was hooked on this track within the first 20 seconds. In one word, WOW! “Girls,” the first single, continues to pound away with vibrating analog sounds that can easily shatter windows for miles. The vocals contributed by the Magnificent Pin Pong Bitches are meticulously spliced together for maximum impact. Princess Superstar provides her vocal talents on “Memphis Bells” alongside Liam’s musical arsenal. Skipping “Get Up, Get Off,” which does nothing for me, we come upon another gem: “Hot Ride.”
“Hot Ride” goes full throttle with energy and red line anger. Lewis again performs her punk style vocals here, chanting “Give Me A Ride!” This testosterone-fueled menace can turn an otherwise tame outing into a mosh pit. This has become one of my favorite tracks on the album. The eerie “Medusa’s Path” is a mid-tempo combination of heavy beats and distorted bass lines reminiscent of earlier Prodigy material. A very cool piece of musical genius. “Phoenix” introduces a variety of obscure samples and guitar work mixed with potent analog bass. Liam’s talent for using the meanest and funkiest grooves is evident here. This one must be played at maximum volume to be fully appreciated. The gutsy “You’ll Be Under My Wheels” takes the Academy Award for its balls-to-the-wall mixture of attitude and vibe. While some may find this one a bit repetitive, I find it simply perfect. The analog bass is so thick that you can cut it with a knife! The Michael Jackson “Thirller” inspired “The Way It Is” is guaranteed to dominate playlists worldwide. Imagine a Prodigy engineered interpretation of this pop classic without the vocals and add insane production to the mix. Towards the end, “More Girls” gives us a different angle on this single.
Although not all 13 tracks are on the mark, the eight or nine mentioned above make up for it. AONO is a testament to Prodigy’s ongoing sonic evolution, proving that Howlett and company are not as disposable as the myriad of one hit wonders from the so-called electronica movement.
Maverick Records: www.maverickrecords.com