God, it was gonna be so good. This music was new. Different. No more grungy guitars played by guys with even grungier hair. These tunes had beats. Cute raver chicks could dance to ’em, and maybe I would get my nerve up to join them on the floor. But it was still angry, punky. Yes, this was it. I was gonna be different. Screw Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden, and all my mook friends who were fans. I was gonna buy Orbital and Underworld albums. I was gonna steep myself in the back catalog of Eno and Kraftwerk. Maybe I would even learn to deejay, crown myself king of the Orlando club scene.
It was gonna be so good. But then it just didn’t happen. The Prodigy didn’t wipe the rock off rock radio. The music didn’t have staying power. By the band’s third single off 1997’s Fat of the Land, it was already resorting to the cheap trick of a controversial video. Pearl Jam kept cranking out good albums. College came, and with it college rock. My pacifier remained in its package, collecting dust.
All that’s left now is this, the I Love the ’90s nostalgia-trip greatest-hits package. Sure, the hits still hit hard. “Breathe,” undeniably so. A true “rave-up,” as overused as that term was to describe songs in the ’90s (Spin even once christened REM’s “Man on the Moon” such a beast). When, after the choruses, everything drops away to that catchy bass line, I can’t help but pogo in place, waiting for that drum roll to come back, for all hell to break loose again.
For those who never got past those singles, there are few surprises here. “Out of Space” is playful, with its silly reggae sample. And the new edit of the title track features nice cut-up guitar lines.
But too many tracks — “Voodoo People,” “Charly,” “Everybody in the Place” — rely on the type of oddball spoken-word samples that David Byrne and Brian Eno first pioneered on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. And would it kill Liam Howlett to throw in a quieter moment even once? At least the Chemical Brothers knew how to temper their louder, faster assault with Jonathan Donahue and Hope Sandoval interludes. By the final tracks, “One Love” and “Hot Ride,” all the noise becomes headache inducing.
It was gonna be so good. But it isn’t.
The Prodigy Web site