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Primal Scream - More Light (Album Review)

Friday, 17 May 2013 Written by Graeme Marsh

Remarkably, Primal Scream have been in existence since 1982 and ‘More Light’ becomes their 10th studio album some 5 years after its rather unheralded predecessor, ‘Beautiful Future’.

It wasn’t until 1987’s ‘Sonic Flower Groove’ that the band debuted in the album market, probably due to the groups unsettled start which initially saw singer Bobby Gillespie sharing his Scream duties with the role of drummer within another revered Scottish band, Jesus and the Mary Chain, before being told by the Reid brothers to either join JAMC full-time or leave, with the latter being Gillespie’s preferred choice. 

An eponymous release in 1989 followed before the band’s masterpiece ‘Screamadelica’ hit the shelves to mass critical acclaim and a place in rock history.  With the record being such a milestone, it was unsurprising to see the Scream play it in its entirety for a specifically themed tour, which was so mammoth that it ended up taking the best part of 2011 to complete.  Following the tour, bassist Mani announced that he would be leaving to join a reformed Stone Roses; his place was subsequently taken by My Bloody Valentine’s Debbie Goodge but the stay was short lived and the position of bass player now rests with Simone Butler.

‘More Light’ sees the band taking a swipe at the state of the nation on many tracks, with Gillespie stating that “I wanted to convey coming out of a dark time and into a good one”; the music in the main shifts away from their renowned Rolling Stones comparisons for a more psychedelic sound, the most similar back catalogue album probably being ‘XTRMNTR’, with some ‘Screamadelica’ moments thrown in.

Preceding single ‘2013’ is the opening track, and is nothing short of an epic; 9 minutes of Krautrock meets Hawkwind and Psychedelic Furs with a killer snake-charmer sax line reminiscent of early Roxy Music, with Gillespie spouting his displeasure at what Britain has become, all overseen by MBV’s Kevin Shields’ unmistakable guitaring presence.

‘River Of Pain’ is a psychedelic drug-fuelled trip that turns into a Sergeant Pepper moment, with its psych-folk acoustic beginnings underpinning the entire track whilst shifting in and out of focus with all kinds of weird stuff going on including a short cinematic orchestral section that sounds like the end of a 1950’s film.  ‘Culturecide’ features The Pop Group’s Mark Stewart on wailed chorus duties and is built upon a repetitive undulating bass line punctuated by strained sax and Gillespie’s rantings declaring that you are a “refugee in your own country”.

‘Hit Void’ steps up the tempo and features frantic drum rolls and psychedelic sax that evolves into free form jazz and disorder.  ‘Tenement Kid’ is driven by a slow, simple 4 note bass line whilst delivering its message explaining how today’s British kids are given no chance – “mother was damaged, father was too”.  Tempo increases again for the stomping ‘Invisible City’, another reflective look at what’s going on in the world with its “flashing lights and police cars”; female backing vocals and subtle guitar riffs add to the tracks pounding beat and trumpet lead.

The album then takes a bluesy detour and a chance to catch your breath with ‘Goodbye Johnny’ that opens with striking resemblance to Hall & Oates ‘I Can’t Go For That’ before unleashing a superb sax solo; ‘Sideman’ veers off into psychedelic territory again but is fairly unmemorable before the blues are revisited courtesy of ‘Elimination Blues’, featuring Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant on vocals, this one being more of a straightforward blues standard with classic woe appearing in the lyrics such as “my baby’s gone, she’s leaving town” being sung around a howling guitar and repetitive beat.

‘Turn Each Other Inside Out’ is another high tempo psychedelic burner with its Eastern sounding skeletal guitar and intoxicating drug-fuelled ambience, broken occasionally by muttered vocals and crashing drums and cymbals.  ‘Relativity’ continues the vibe before ‘Walking With The Beast’ opens with its gentle dreamy musings and delicate guitar, ticking along slowly with minimal instrumentalism – more of an interlude than anything else, almost like a come down.

Album closer ‘It’s Alright, It’s OK’ is the second single lifted from the album and is for all intents and purposes a new ‘Moving On Up’ – a classic sing-a-long (with it’s “ooh la la” outro) and a decent way to end a very good 69 minute outing that proves Primal Scream are still a very relevant band; this is quite possibly the best album the band have released since ‘XTRMNTR’, containing some tracks that can be considered to be amongst their best.

'More Light' is available now on Ignition Records. Primal Scream support Stone Roses at Glasgow Green in June.

Primal Scream UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Sat June 15th 2013 - GLASGOW Green (supporting The Stone Roses)
Fri June 28th 2013 - COVENTRY Kasbah

Click Here to Compare & Buy Primal Scream Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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