Pop Will Eat Itself

This Is the Day...This Is the Hour...This Is This!

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After the band's enthusiastic if somewhat stumbling transformation into a sort-of English Beastie Boys on Box Frenzy, Pop Will Eat Itself transformed itself into a much superior beast on the brilliant, underrated This Is the Day...This Is the Hour...This Is This! The secret ingredient was Flood, who brought his considerable production skills to the fore and helped shape an album that was its own sprawling but self-contained universe. While calling the bandmembers skilled MCs in a conventional sense would be pretty silly, their own particular mesh and mix of U.S. and, importantly, U.K. pop culture in with the metal riffs, disco backing, monster drum stomps, and more are their own reward. The band's sound has never been thicker and more detailed, and while the sampling and arranging are always clearly a product of their late-'80s times, like the Beasties did that year with Paul's Boutique, PWEI comes up with its own sharp synthesis. The brilliant, shuddering singles alone are worth the price of entry -- "Def. Con. One," a ridiculously goony but very catchy portrayal of Armageddon Judge Dredd style, the propulsive "Can U Dig It?" and its cataloging of everything the band loves from DJ Spinderella to Dirty Harry, and particularly the wonderful "Wise Up! Sucker," as perfect a frustrated love/hate song of the era as anything else, with a sharp, mocking backing vocal from the Wonder Stuff's Miles Hunt. Then there's the wickedly bizarre "Not Now James, We're Busy...," a sort of anti-tribute to the Godfather of Soul and his legal troubles of the time. But beyond those deserved highlights, there are all sorts of intriguing surprises throughout the album, including a fair dollop of moody goth/post-punk touches that inadvertently predicts where Massive Attack partially ended up. The murky beginning and breaks of "Inject Me" and the collapsing inward drones and feedback of "Wake Up! Time to Die..." certainly give the lie to the idea that PWEI was only ever a one-dimensional cartoon.

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