Review Summary: 30 years in and still looking for their sound. Commendable but lacks conviction.
Euphoric, trippy, almost tropical but inescapably British - when Primal Scream released Screamadelica
in 1990, there was a clear concept that they wanted to leave their comfort zone to create something inspired by the acid scene. Of course, what followed was an era-defining record, and the experiment had paid off. The iconic album cover and the familiar bars of singles like ‘Movin’ On Up’, ‘Come Together’ and ‘Loaded’ still adorn record collections and postered walls. While it’s not quite fair to say that the 2016 Scream are suffering a confidence crisis, it’s probably not too much of a surprise to find them attempting to revisit these former glories alongside a few new experiments on Chaosmosis
- it’s been a trait that has followed Bobby Gillespie throughout his career with varying levels of success. Unfortunately, the lack of cohesion does more damage to this record than good, and while there are some well-executed ideas on show here, they are so mixed up in such a relatively short runtime (10 tracks over 37 minutes), that the experience somewhat strikes the listener and leaves with no lasting impact.
Where Primal Scream do themselves such a disservice is that Chaosmosis
sounds like they don’t want to be Primal Scream anymore. Sure, ’Trippin’ On Your Love’ - complete with it’s cringingly 90’s title - is taken right from the Screamadelica
blueprint, albeit with slightly smoother production values, and is a fun hark back in time to Britpop’s foundations, and ‘When The Blackout Meets The Fallout’ sounds like Kasabian rehashing ‘Miss Lucifer’ from 2002’s Evil Heat, the rest of the album is a mismatch of styles that are interesting in the moment, but lack lasting appeal. ‘100% Or Nothing’ is essentially a HAIM song with a new vocalist (and as such is perfect for their backing appearance), ‘I Can Change’ sounds like an awkwardly sexual collaboration between AIR and Damon Albarn, ‘Where The Light Gets In’ could have easily blended into the tracklist of CHVRCHES’ Every Open Eye
, and ‘Carnival Of Fools’ resembles a muted Erasure.
The points that do sound identifiably Primal are few and far between, and sadly don’t make for the highlights; ‘Golden Rope’ at least makes a decent stab at anthemic, with relentless, pounding verses, melancholic ‘hallelujah’ chorus and closing ‘I know that there is something wrong with me’ refrain - the end result just happens to be a little too underwhelming - and ‘Private Wars’ is just far too dreary and out of place to contribute positively to the tracklist.
is not a bad album by any stretch, and is packed full of well-produced bites of pop music, but is far more a collection of ideas than a body of work in itself, which, sadly, frustrates more than it intrigues.