Album Review: Primal Scream - Chaosmosis

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The stylistic shifts and changes throughout the career of the Scottish band Primal Scream have been both welcomed and also a bone of contention for many fans.

As soon as they are pegged with one style they have been known to completely shake free of that expectation and go a completely different route.

The band began as a somewhat neutered jangle-pop band after Bobby Gillespie left the band The Jesus And Mary Chain to create his own group.

After two underwhelming releases in the late 80s, The Scream began experimenting with remixes and started to embrace the whole dance rock culture that had been infiltrating Britain at the time.

Whether it was a revolt against the conservative 80s or the effect of the club-drug ecstasy, many bands began playing around with extending jams and farming out dance-floor friendly remixes.

Yet no band captured this moment as perfectly as Primal Scream on their 1991 landmark album Screamadelica. Equal parts jangle pop, Jagger-esque roots rock and mind-bending rave beats, the record set a new precedent on the fledgling genre.

However, as soon as they had found massive success they decided to bewilder the public with the 1994 set Give Out But Don't Give Up which melded southern rock like The Black Crowes with low-end funk courtesy of a collaboration with George Clinton. The album cover featured a tongue-in-cheek rendering of the confederate flag and...

It flopped.

They had a rebound with the hazy, dubby rock on 1997's Vanishing Point but from then on they seemed interested in challenging their audience with a different style for every single album.

They even created a rustic country/roots album with 2006's Riot City Blues.

So the new album Chaosmosis may be the first Primal Scream that is not a complete 180 degree shift from their previous effort. As with their last album More Light, the Primal's have embraced what brought them to the party in the first place. The first sounds on the album sound like a throwback to the heady, footloose party vibe of 1991.

A huge beat, pounding piano chords and back up vocals from the girl band Haim, make "Trippin' On Your Love" a tasty piece of studio perfection.

This sets the table nicely for the throbbing dark pop of "(Feeling Like A) Demon Again" where singer Bobby Gillespie plays the outsider badass character he perfected years ago.

The polemic politics found on previous albums has been muted somewhat on Choasmosis with only "100% Or Nothing" containing their trademark leftist talking points. The album on a whole is bit too smoothed out to stand up to their career high points. "Carnival Of Fools" is the best piece of perfect pop on the record, combining Bobby's dark soul vocals on the verse and then careening into an all out club/EDM beat for the chorus.

It hits hard. The first single "Where The Light Gets In" also is pure pop pleasure complete with a sultry duet with Sky Ferreira.

Yet too much of Chaosmosis is content on melting into the background. "Private Wars" never gains any momentum and "Golden Rope" is musical wallpaper. Pleasant but nothing to remember after the music is over.

At a mere 10 songs and 38 minutes this is certainly the slightest release Primal Scream has ever released. However, the band closes the record with "Autumn In Paradise," a gorgeous slice of dream pop that shows the heart in the often mechanical-sounding band.

Like their 1997 hit "Star," "Autumn In Paradise" weaves tails of downtrodden, hard luck, everyday people, yet it doesn't come off as preachy.

Instead it leaves the listener wishing that the Scream would consider creating their next full length with as much soul as in "August In Paradise" and not just the somewhat plastic hedonism found on Chaosmosis.

For more on Primal Scream:

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