20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
A welcome return,
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This review is from: This Is PiL (Audio CD)
So here it is, there return of Lydon's PiL. And it's a pretty solid return as well. I'm happy to admit that 'Metal Box' is one my favorite albums of all time, but PiL has as we all know been shapeshifting many times since and there will never be another PiL album matching that.
My expectations hasn't been to high after seeing PiL live in 2009 (they were good, but not outstanding) and the albums single, the 12" EP 'One Drop' didn't change that. All of it's four tracks are on 'This Is PiL' as well, but the good news is that three of them are amongst the weakest on the album.
In brief, this is the best album PiL have made since Flowers Of Romance, and actually the ONLY good album they've made since then. As the line up is pretty close to the 'Happy' (1987) line up (with Bruce Smith on drums and Lou Edmonds on guitars and more) the song structures follow much the same pattern. But it's mostly stronger songs/material and a way better production (I somehow suspect that PiL newcomer Scott Firth has something to do with this, his bass lines and keyboard work in general is superb). But the album is also way too long (65 minutes) and quantity seem to have won the battle against quality here, but if you (on your mp 3 player or computer) cut 4 or 5 of the really weak songs you'll be left with a quite good 40 minute album.
Opener 'This is Pil' is probably the closest Lydon's been to the classic PiL sound (Lydon/Wobble/Levene) since the already mentioned Metal Box. It's eerie, bass heavy and groovy and it feels like it's got an edge, Lydon is on top of his game and it sends chills down my spine, excellent stuff! After that follows the (in my ears terrible) single 'One Drop' which is almost new wave/ska at it's worst. But later on there'a a lot of solid songs. The next four tracks; 'Deeper Water', (the slightly punkish) 'Terra Gate', the haunting 'Human' and 'I Must be Dreaming' are all among the bands best material for 30 years. After that things get a bit more uneven and without a record labels filter (it's released on their own label which in the end probably is a good thing with Lydon's music biz history) the band seem to loose their focus and the quality drops. The last track, almost 10 minutes long 'Out In the Woods', however saves the day.
Musically the album is mostly solid and pretty straight forward rock/postpunk, not much of the edge from earlier days, but it's a good album which should appeal to old fans of the band (and Lydon in particular). They will however probably not gain much new audience as it does sound very 'grown up'. If you are looking for something more in the direction of the original Public Image Ltd I suggest checking out the new EP by Jah Wobble and Keith Levene and also Wobble's album from last year (where Levene contributes as well). 'This is PiL' is not a classic (that would have been 5 stars), but it's a strong and welcome return with some of the bands best material in 30 years and in fact it's the only PiL album you'll need from the last 30 years.