it's unlikely but just possible that at some long distant point in the future, long-haired bearded musical journo types will sit around tables in the pub debating the question "had rca not dropped pwei, would we have had their finest album?". certainly the question is one that should be answered - was this stunning return to form the result of being unceremoniously dumped or would it have happened anyway?
the poppies had gradually lost their way, both musically and lyrically, thoughout their stay with the major label. they had started as erstwhile documenters of the late 80s from a uniquely west midlander aspect. their humour was earthy, their concerns basic. but they lost the guitars and their sense of humour and didn't really seem to know what to replace them with. then came the dumping and the (what seemed like) never-ending series of retreads that rca released. and then came this album released in the uk on infectious and in the us on nothing.
the first thing that needs to be said is that, while the poppies found their guitars again, the sense of humour has changed. it's bitter, cut throughout with disillusion and bile. it's targets range from "the establishment" to the fashion industry to the rise of the neo-nazi movement in europe in the early 90s. it covers drug abuse and football hooliganism and what it's like to come back to your hometown after 7 hedonistic years on the rock circuit.
the second is that, while it was touted as an "industrial" album, it's not. musically they'd reined back their use of recognisable samples, which has the effect of leaving the music itself less cluttered. this gives it a power that had been missing for all too long.
all told, this album is where the promise that pwei had shown in their "box frenzy" and "this is the day..." albums really came to fruitition. unlike any other in their ouvre, this album hangs together as a coherent piece of work. it is the highest point in their career.