Review Summary: Anger is an energy
In late 1985 John Lydon was having a rough time. His band Public Image Ltd. had basically devolved into a solo project. As the only original member left, Lydon started turning his back on “experimental art rock” and began to make more radio-friendly and commercial music. He hired a slew of big name session musicians (Steve Vai, Ginger Baker, Tony Williams to name a few) to help round out his songs. So what’s the result? Well, where the previous album This is What You Want.. This is What You Get
, could have been described loosely as “ Rotten goes pop” this is more of a conventional and generic piece of pop music.
The first four Pil albums had an edge and a certain unique charm to it all. Most of that is gone on Album
. They trade in all their risks and flaws for pristine and safe ideas. Opener “FFF” lets you know right away that the album will be full of loud typical 80’s guitar. The song is happenin’ and can definitely get your toe tappin’ but there isn’t a lot to it. The drums are big and mindless like a lot of other pop music at the time.
“Rise” is next and is by far the most popular Pil song. It is easy to see why with its optimistic outlook and the triumphant guitar riffing on three major-key chords. To me, it sounds cheesy as fuck, but I can see why people would dig it. Most of the record sounds like “Rise.” Mid-tempo pop rock with a few “heavy” riffs here and there.
Nothing on Album
is truly bad. However, nothing is truly great. There are times where it takes a step over mediocrity though. The record ends on a fairly high note. The 1-2 punch of "Bags” and “Home” are actually a nice collection of ideas. After that is the closer “Ease” which is a pleasant send off. With its long intro and sitar-solo-that-turns-into-a-guitar-solo ending it had to considered one of the better tracks here. These keep Album from being just average.
and especially Lydon are very conservative here. Considering what Lydon had done with the Pil of old, I said say it is much too conservative. For someone that repeatedly proclaimed they wanted to end rock and roll music he sure played it safe this go around. Again, not to say its bad, but more boring than anything.
Lydon always had one of the most annoying voices in the business (I personally think this is a compliment) and even those have chilled out. His vocals are still weird but he has toned down his signature caterwaul that he usually employs. This tame version offends no one. Maybe that's why this record doesn't grab me. It's so innocuous and although the lyrics are generally pretty alright, they aren’t delivered with any sort of venom that we usually hear from Lydon.
It's hard to believe that the same guy who wrote "Bodies" is singing on this average 80's release. I don't even think there is a single F-Bomb on the whole thing! You can't blame the guy though, for someone who epitomized not one, but two genres in the matter of a few years can be forgiven for making some bland pop songs.