Most electronic music shies away from public discourse or any sort of social action. Sure, some DJs will speak out on Twitter (how brave), but most won’t do anything with their actual music. The Prodigy have always been different. They don’t shy away, but instead run headfirst and barrel through any brick walls of controversy or social injustice with their music. Since the 1990s they have been the voice of jilted generation and are back with a new album No Tourists.
The group maintain their hard sounding electro punk-rock that has been a staple of what has made them so unique sounding over the past three decades. No Tourists doesn’t simply rely on ‘90s rave nostalgia, there is some modern production like on “Timebomb Zone,” which sounds like it could have some Rustie or Hudson Mohawke production blended during the breaks.
In an era of Trump, Bolsonaro (though he probably wasn’t on their radar during the recording on this album), Brexit, the Grenfell Fire and the incompetence of the May-led Conservative government to handle the ramifications of both, artists like The Prodigy are needed.
In a statement about the album title and theme, they explain that it is about the need to explore and find information for yourself. “In these times we live in people have become lazier and forgotten how to explore. Too many people are allowing themselves to be force fed, with whatever that may be,” Howlett says. “It’s about reaching out further to find another alternative route where the danger and excitement may be to feel more alive… not accepting that you can just be a tourist. That’s what the title is about for us.”
They hammer that point home on “Champions Of London” with the menacing sound bite hinting at rising up, “Civil unrest, grab the bulletproof vest.” The group hammers home the point with pummeling riffs, pounding drums and robotic voices that may show they have not lost a bit of energy over the past twenty years. They want everyone to know that with lines like ““The time has come. We live for ever!” on “We Live Forever.”
They seem to be making fun of the repetitive nature of EDM on “Boom Boom Tap,” but seem to get a little lost in their own joke, trying too hard to critique (maybe what I am doing here).
Overall the group is able to channel the energy and power that they are known for, but it still feels like some of the magic of '90s has been lost. The era is ripe for them for the taking. The world is crumbling and The Prodigy is the right group to come and smash through what remains. They are back to doing that.
With Keith Flint's passing earlier in 2019, this album takes on new meaning since it is the last time we will hear from the rave icon.