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Primal Scream 

Evil Heat

Wednesday, Apr 16 2003
Plenty of rock bands claim electronic dance music as an influence, but few acts have incorporated club sounds into their style as successfully as Primal Scream. The rave rock of Screamadelica broke the group to a global audience in 1991, meshing acid house with Stones-y swagger. Since then, singer/anarchist firebrand Bobby Gillespie and company have dabbled in everything from cinematic, dub-wise soundscapes on 1997's Vanishing Point to dense, sonic assaults worthy of Public Enemy's Bomb Squad with XTRMNTR in 2000.

The band's latest, Evil Heat, treads an odd middle ground between the two ends of the Primal Scream spectrum. The album reunites the group with Screamadelica producer Andy Weatherall in the form of his production team Two Lone Swordsmen on several tracks. The spare, pulsing rhythms of the Kraftwerk homage "Autobahn 66" and of "A Scanner Darkly" get filled out with snaking snatches of distorted guitar. The techno-laced songs are engaging enough, but Weatherall's clean production lacks the grit so intrinsic to the Primal Scream vibe. The best Two Lone Swordsmen track, a percolating, spaced-out version of the Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra chestnut "Some Velvet Morning," with Kate Moss taking on Sinatra's vocal, sounds like an interplanetary transmission from a sleazy android strip joint.

My Bloody Valentine maestro Kevin Shields handles the balance of Evil Heat more successfully, imbuing the recording with a droning menace to match Gillespie's desperate, often vitriolic vocals. The futuristic blues throb of "The Lord Is My Shotgun" (featuring Robert Plant's most distorted harmonica wheezing since "When the Levee Breaks") and the 25th-century Stooges invocations captured on "Rise," "City," and "Skull X" fulfill the band's vicious electronic garage-rock potential. An uneven effort when compared to the group's last two albums, but Primal Scream's misfires are still more interesting than the best work of most bands out there.

About The Author

Dave Pehling


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