As I believe I have stated in an earlier review, I seem to have gradually fallen out of love with music over the past twenty years or so. That’s why almost all of my previous reviews have been for very old albums, released back when listening to music was my reason for living. This time, I decided to try something new, literally, by reviewing an album that just came out recently and that I haven’t listened to before. Admittedly, it is a band that’s been around for about 30 years and a band I loved back when I loved music more than anything.
The first track on Chaosmosis, “Tripping on Your Love,” makes me wonder, is it 1993 again? Oddly, this sounds more like the Farm circa ’93 than Primal Scream circa ’93, and though that sounds like an insult it isn’t meant to be. This party is more carefree than a Primal Scream party usually is. The junkies have left and now it’s just friends having some good (mostly) clean fun. Pop an E and dance all night without having your mellow harshed by the scary people doing heroin in the corner.
“(Feeling Like a) Demon Again” slows things down a bit and quite strongly reminds me of the Rakes (Check out their 2005 album Capture/Release – it’s good!) with the bleepy synths and breathy near-monotone vocals. Next up is “I Can Change” – is that Bobby Gillespie singing? It doesn’t really sound like him. This one sounds a bit like a mellow Gorillaz album track.
Nearly every song so far has brought forth a comparison to another band and I think that’s the one constant in Primal Scream’s musically diverse career. They unabashedly wear their influences on their sleeves but they usually give them a tweak to keep things from getting too derivative. That isn’t always the case on Chaosmosis – seriously, I kept finding it hard to believe I wasn’t listening to New Order on “100% or Nothing.”
The unintentional(?) homages continue with “Private Wars” which I swear to God sounds like Dust in the motherfucking Wind. Seriously? This is getting a little silly now. “Where the Light Gets In” is the first song on here that I’ve strongly disliked. This time I’m reminded of some 90’s ultra-mild electronica influenced pop like Republika or something equally awful.
On “When the Blackout Meets the Fallout,” an unexpected antecedent jumps out at me from the urgent, rhythmic synths reminiscent of Front 242’s “Tragedy for You.” “Carnival of Fools” does the spooky carnival music thing. It’s a concept that’s been done way better by other bands, particularly Siouxsie and the Banshees on Peepshow’s “Carousel”
Hey, “Golden Rope” is the first song that hasn’t instantly brought to mind another song! But it doesn’t really grab me either. The album’s closer, “Autumn in Paradise” ends up sounding like New Order again, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
How fitting is the title Chaosmosis? Primal Scream have always absorbed other artists’ music and churned it back out in a big mess that sometimes doesn’t make sense. Sometimes that big mess ends up being gorgeous, mesmerizing, the auditory equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting – see Screamadelica. Other times it’s just what you find after the raccoons have gotten into your garbage cans again.
I fear Primal Scream’s big, guitar-driven classic rock pastiche anthems like “Rocks” and “Country Girl” may have died with former guitarist Robert “Throb” Young, which is a shame – they were always my favorites. I can’t help but wonder if he wasn’t a big part of the songwriting process as well, because this is their first album I’ve given a serious listen since his passing and something is certainly missing. Something that takes the influences and improves upon them instead of just rehashing them.