Thinking about The Prodigy‘s last couple of albums prior to No Tourists makes me think of an identity crisis. A few years ago one group of fans would welcome the shouty, punk vibe of Omen and Wall of Death, whilst another bunch of followers would lament the apparent death of The Prodigy’s roots, as it stepped further and further away from the techno-rave aesthetic that defined the Experience album and certain parts of Music for a Jilted Generation. Some might argue that the evolution began with hit single Firestarter and continued from there; the same people who would pin the “blame” on poor Keith Flint headbanging and shouting in an abandoned London Underground tunnel. Personally I’m a fan of each of these “eras”, but this also meant that I wasn’t a dissenting voice – it meant that I was probably part of the problem. Maybe that’s why I feel some relief in knowing that No Tourists has taken steps to work on that identity crisis and maybe even embrace it.
No Tourists – a history lesson
Listening to the ten tracks of No Tourists is like embarking on a journey through Prodigy history; Light Up The Sky has vicious sounds, big beats and simple, shouty lyrics (not to mention some minor effects that sound straight out of Breathe and Their Law) – it carries the same punch as something like Nasty from The Day Is My Enemy. Elsewhere, We Live Forever sounds like a lost track from the Experience album; you’re listening to the chatty vocal sample and half-expecting it to tell you it’ll “take your brain to another dimension”. Later on, Champions of London and Boom Boom Tap have the kind of hurried tempos that you’d normally hear on a drum ‘n’ bass record, bringing to mind the similar urgency of Roadblox. Of course, there’s always the chance that Disposable Media is being swept up in the thrill of the new here, and maybe certain tracks will lose their shine over time (I personally found that Need Some1 and Fight Fire With Fire were kind of weak to begin with), but right now it feels like No Tourists has a little something for everyone. My personal favourite at the moment is Resonate; it combines distorted vocals and heavy beats with classic synth sounds – and somehow it all works together gloriously.
No Tourists – no “buts”
As I listened and collected my thoughts on No Tourists I was surprised at the overall quality and variety of the album, and I was wondering if there would ever be a “however” moment in this article. My only minor issue I found with the album – and it probably won’t be an issue for some fans – was that there’s an aggressive, loud, merciless vibe throughout the whole thing… and there’s little room to take a breather. As much as I love this, I also enjoy the chilled intros and slow build-ups of tracks such as Climbatize and Weather Experience, and I was waiting for a similar moment when listening to No Tourists. There are definitely some slower tracks on the album, but nothing with the same vibe carried by those older tracks. Even so, the consistent quality and variety in each of these relentless tracks is more than enough to satisfy me; when tracks were being revealed before the album’s release I felt like I had a new favourite every other week – now I’ve listened to the rest of the album and have yet more favourites to think about. No Tourists sees The Prodigy doing what they do best, whilst also respecting the evolution of the Prodigy sound throughout the group’s history. That in itself is enough of a reason to pick this up.