The Prodigy as a band, and indeed a concept, are very much of their time. As pioneers of the ‘big beat movement’, alongside the likes of Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim, they achieved extreme mainstream popularity in the 90s and still continue to perform festival headline slots and massive venue tours all across the world. Despite the waning in popularity of big beat in the mainstream, the Essex trio have stuck to their guns on their studio output. Their latest, No Tourists, their first album since 2015’s The Day is My Enemy, continues that brave loyalty to the rave scene and, no doubt, provides a few new dynamic numbers that will slot into their live shows with ease.
There is much to be said about the band’s fondness and constant harking back to their heady days. Frontman and founder Liam Howlett stated that, “It just makes me ill when bands jump on the latest craze and they do whatever the latest thing is now. We’re not a band that are embarrassed of our roots.” With No Tourists’ singles ‘Need Some1’ and ‘Light Up the Sky’ they’ve recaptured that intense, yet extremely listenable sound, that has seen the band adored worldwide.
Elsewhere, however, it does start to become a bit stale. “We own that sound, we created it. We’re not interested in reinventing ourselves, because we’re happy with ourselves – we don’t need to.” Howlett has suggested, but I think it might just be getting to the point where they might need to invigorate that once iconic sound. ‘Timebomb Zone’, in particular, feels laboured, tepid, and entirely unoriginal. Like an amalgamation of all of their earlier work, this track alone is proof that it might be time for a reboot of The Prodigy formula. Additionally, ‘Champions of London’, a celebration of our wonderful capital, is a repetitive slog of a song.
Nevertheless, one thing that has to be said about the band is their constant promotion of brand-new talent. Like their collaboration with Sleaford Mods on The Day is My Enemy, No Tourists brings on two promising – and very different – up and coming stars. Their collaboration with hip-hop metal band Ho99o9, a group they’ve also taken out on tour, on ‘Fight Fire With Fire’, is a brash, in-your-face track that is essentially a match made in heaven. Elsewhere, final song ‘Give Me a Signal’ throws the spotlight on promising indie-rock star Barns Courtney, which is an energetic and sparkling track that expertly uses rise and fall for a dose of vibrant euphoria at its upsurge. Impressive, and using their stature to promote artists they’re fans of, this is absolutely the best side to the three-piece.
No Tourists certainly has a feeling of an album of two halves. Opening with a vibrant, and slightly refreshed Prodigy sound, it slowly falls into the same pitfalls that much of the trio’s 2000s work has done: derivative, downward spiralling and slightly dull. It’s in no way a bad album, and die-hard fans of the band will love this return, but it’s unequivocally devoid of ideas from the halfway mark. If The Prodigy aren’t careful, they’ll become a heritage act quicker than you can say ‘Smack My Bitch Up’.