Primal Scream : Evil Heat

Multi-warhead disco-punk love missile from undefeated dadrock heavyweights

As Bobby Gillespie embraces fortysomething fatherhood, we might reasonably expect the Scream's first post-Creation album to be a reflective collection of gooey-eyed lullabies. Alternatively, it could be a seething cauldron of electro-punk anthems about Nazi-uniformed love vixens, corporate ultraviolence and apocalyptic drugsex. So which is it to be? Go on, have a guess...

A clear progression from 1997's broody 'Vanishing Point' and 2000's abrasive 'Xtrmntr', the seventh Primals album is genuinely their most diverse and consistently thrilling since 'Screamdelica'. Significantly, it also marks Andrew Weatherall's most serious involvement as co-producer since that epochal 1991 collaboration. His two mixes, 'Autobahn 66' and 'A Scanner Darkly', are Krautronic symphonies of vintage synth magic co-produced by his fellow Lone Swordsman Keith Tenniswood. Borderline masterpieces both, but only a fraction of the album, defying any lingering suspicions that Weatherall was the sole alchemist behind 'Screamadelica'.

The real studio credit for 'Evil Heat' belongs to ex-My Bloody Valentine visionary and semi-permanent Scream stalwart Kevin Shields. From the heady electro-delic cloud-melt of the lysergically lovely opener 'Deep Hit Of Morning Sun' to the deafening garage-punk snarl-up of 'City' and the lascivious future-blues swagger of 'The Lord Is My Shotgun', Shields piles on the dissonant noise collage like an orchestral conductor. And yet, unlike its scouringly angry predecessor, 'Evil Heat' also finds room for the Scream's soft, sexy and spiritual sides - like Gillespie and celebrity guest vocalist Kate Moss duetting tenderly on the Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood ballad 'Some Velvet Morning', or Martin Duffy closing the album with a beatific gospel confessional.

But the real killer tracks lie in the electroclash margins. Current single 'Miss Lucifer', for example, is a feral sex-robot growl reworked into a propulsive blast of armour-piercing disko-punk by Jagz Kooner. Or 'Rise', born from the ashes of the controversial 'Bomb The Pentagon', a visceral PiL-style bruiser which retains its rousing dalek-voiced blowtorch polemic against multinationals and superpowers. Brutal, spine-tingling, virile stuff.

For non-believers, 'Evil Heat' betrays some familiar Scream shortcomings: the fragmentary lyrics, the shameless classic-rock homages, the risible heavy-metal outlaw posturing. But even so, and unlike most albums on these pages, every single track demands repeated exploration and devotion. Gillespie's gang may belong to the same generation as Michael Stipe and Bono, but they are still raging hard against Middle Youth complacency. Even after most of our so-called rock'n'roll stars have turned soft, safe, or simply disappeared up their own noses, Primal Scream remain Class A contenders.

Stephen Dalton
8 / 10

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