There’s a pretty good chance that you know The Prodigy better than I do. Not having been especially jilted a couple of decades ago, I think I decided that much as I liked Charly and Out of Space, somehow their particularly noisy brand of electronica was not for me. So it is with some trepidation that on the twentieth anniversary of their second album Music for the Jilted Generation, I’m trying to review it and remain fair.
Fortunately, things kick off pretty promisingly – there’s a pointless but thankfully short introductory track, and then a great track – entirely worthy of being a single – called Break and Enter. It’s got all the rave elements that made the first album Experience (1992) so great, but this time with a much darker, gristly side too.
Their Law crops up next, for the most part seemingly more electro, and less rave, and full of enormous squelchy synth sounds. I imagine this jars with popular opinion, but I’m not convinced this is as good as the previous track. Not bad though.
Full Throttle is a little unconvincing, but then everything is thrown into total disarray with the amazing Voodoo People, which was the third of the four singles in 1994. It’s enormous, powerful, and potentially life changing. It’s also difficult to follow, but Speedway (Theme from Fastlane) is a worthy contender, and although whatever it was originally the theme for seems to have long since been forgotten by the world at large, it still stands up well.
This isn’t an album completely free from filler though, as The Heat (The Energy) demonstrates – it’s probably the least interesting track on the album, and it’s definitely much too long. But final single Poison is great, and more than makes up for any failings its predecessor may have, although somehow twenty years later it does feel a little bit emptier than it did at the time.
Then there’s the second single No Good (Start the Dance), almost certainly the best moment on the album. I’ve speculated many times before about how certain tracks just seem to exude the right energy just from the first couple of bars, and maybe that’s just a product of the way you remember them, but either way this is a fine example of the phenomenon. On the album, it takes a couple of minutes to really get going, and in the process it builds into something really quite fantastic.
One Love closes the trio of singles, and if the title doesn’t ring any bells for you either, it’s the one with all the waily voice stuff going on. It’s good – very good, actually – but somehow just a little forgettable too, which actually seems pretty unfair when you listen to it.
What’s left – the so-called Narcotic Suite of 3 Kilos, Skylined and Claustrophobic Sting – is something that’s probably rather better enjoyed under some kind of narcotic influence. Without it, all three tracks are just a bit dull, and aren’t really worthy to close what was – up to now – largely a very strong album. They don’t even really fit in alongside the rest, so this “suite” is really a very odd inclusion. In its fairness, things do pick up a bit towards the very end, but you are still left wondering why…
Of course, everything would change a couple of years later with the enormous The Fat of the Land, which was that time they essentially took the whole world by storm, but while they were working their way up to that, Music for the Jilted Generation is a strong second album.
You can find Music for the Jilted Generation in all the normal places, and there might be a special edition with some bonus mixes floating around if you search a bit harder.