Whenever indie music seems lost in its own self-righteous, unchallenging, inoffensive fundament, Primal Scream rides in to try and save it all. So just as Screamadelica tried to encapsulate the importance of ecstasy culture, or Vanishing Point tried to exorcise their own insanity, here XTRMNTR is a nasty, fierce realization of an entire world that has also lost the plot. The album starts with a gloriously vindictive sample of a kid commanding "Kill All Hippies," and this roughly states the album's modus operandi. There are songs shouting with furious, feedback-splayed anger ("Blood Money," "Exterminator"), songs of club-based revolt (both house-influenced versions of "Swastika Eyes"), and songs of utterly manic desperation ("Accelerator"). The album only lurches when lead singer Bobby Gillespie's weedy vocals can't keep up with the black noise of the music. "Insect Royalty" meanders and mumbles with a blank approach. "Pills" is a half-realized hip-hop song, with Gillespie diminishing its power on every verse (it only saves itself when it caps the song off with the album's central theme: "Sick f*ck f*ck sick f*ck f*ck sick f*ck"). Thankfully, Scream's highs, such as the gentleness of "Keep Your Dreams" (sounding like the third sibling to 1991's "I'm Coming Down" or 1997's "Star"), as well as the inversely monstrous and apocalyptic "MBV Arkestra (If They Move, Kill 'Em)," shower down with purely visceral poise. The album is not the flawless statement against complacency the band seemed to strive for, but it succeeds at tearing heads off, shooting fascists, and quickly asking questions later with unbelievable fury. For these reasons alone, it easily serves as one of the band's highest marks. These aren't the aggro-simpleton maneuvers of bands like Rage Against the Machine or Korn; the implosive production and sheer political belief prove that ingenuity must come hand in hand with "statement" if an idea is to come across effectively. XTRMNTR is simply a protest -- sonically as well as lyrically -- and maybe this would be a fine time to once again rally behind something worthwhile.
by Dean Carlson