If you want a recent album that dances to its own strange logic, check out the Public Image Ltd. album This is Pil. It came out in 2012 and I shamefully admit that I am only grasping it in its full glory now. John Lydon’s PIL collective has issued its fair share of ground breaking moments, from Metal Box to The Flowers of Romance. It isn’t as easy to break ground in today’s music business, but this album creates its own aura.
First of all Lydon (Johnny Rotten) is fine form. His lyrics range from direct political attacks to the completely surreal. “England has died”, he sings on one song, while on another he sings, “You wanna see me mushroom.” In a song called Lollipop Opera you have a good idea what kind of mushrooms he Is singing. This is festival music. It is meant to challenge and be enjoyed by large groups or people. If Terry Gilliam made a record, well you get the idea. It is subversive and fantastic.
For the first time in a long time PIL sounds like a band. The rhythm section plays giant dubby parts like early pil. Lu Edmonds, formerly of The Damned, as well as an earlier incarnation of PIL, plays guitar and a multitude of instruments in the higher frequencies. His playing is truly something to behold. Listen to Deeper Water, maybe the best track on the album, as his playing on that song is magisterial.
This album is not an older band cashing in. It is as vibrant and hungry as any new band out there, pushing the boundaries of what music can do.
If I have any criticism of this album it is only that the first track, which is the weakest, goes on too long. But overall this is a true return to form that not only doesn’t tarnish the band’s legacy, but expands upon it.
The album sounds mostly live, with a minimum amount of overdubs and studio effects. There is just enough added to each track to add some interesting textures, without taking the focus off of the four piece unit.
This album is not for everyone. Lydon and his cohorts are not afraid to create sounds and dabble in ideas that are uncomfortable at times. However, those that are brave enough to take the journey will find a small piece of uncharted territory to visit.
Out of the Woods