This is a big record, wide in scope and sound. You do have to stick with it at times as it’s over an hour but the beat is ever present, and at times you can wander off mentally but I think that’s more to do with the fact that this is a deeply satisfying, refreshing listen
“This is PiL – Public Image Limiteeed!”, yes it is, and it could be no other. Right from John Lydon’s opening proclamation this is a record that is actively looking to take on the band’s illustrious back catalogue And it’s a record that succeeds: up there with some of the band’s best work. Why? Well, (at the risk of sounding like a right airhead) This Is PiL it just feels so fresh and danceable. It’s not lumpy gravy or overly arty - rather Lydon’s Hyde Park Corner expostulations are given a gloriously colourful backdrop courtesy of shimmering guitar lines and a pulsating, mellifluous and relentless rhythm section.
It’s a positive sound, even if as on Deeper Water or Terra Gate the subject matter can be much darker in its outlook. Reggie Song and Human are absolute classics (even if a bit of Human’s melody line is incredibly reminiscent of Ferry Across the Mersey), both balancing a strong melody and Lydon’s powerful vocal and lyrical presence against some stirring, uplifting music. Balance; that’s the key here: the new band can carry this precious muse, there’s no doubt of that.
This is a big record, wide in scope and sound. You do have to stick with it at times as it’s over an hour but the beat is ever present, and at times you can wander off mentally but I think that’s more to do with the fact that this is a deeply satisfying, refreshing listen; you can – like T-Dream’s Zeit or Yeti, or any Tim Hecker record you care to mention - allow it just to exist in its own space. It’s like a cat hanging round your house, attracting your attention when it needs to. Sometimes it just bursts out in an amiable, nonsensical fizzing stomp, Lollipop Opera, Lydon coming over like some Mr Punch who’s done in Judy and buggered off with a spliff and a few cans. At times like this the record is very reminiscent of something like Rome Remains Rome or Der Ost is Rot.
Lydon is a restless soul who is nevertheless happy to remind us that he feels defined by the city of his birth: there are loads of references to England and its capital; for such a sunny record he likes to conjure up some pretty bleak imagery which can grate at times: (The Room I Am In) – howay John, you’re in L.A. and it’s sunny. More fun are lines like “I was born in London / But really we are born everywhere” or “I am no vulture this is my culture” which have some kind of irreverent pixie dust to it. I really hope we can expect more of this sort of thing.