CD Review: Public Image Limited – What The World Needs Now

CD Review: Public Image Limited – What The World Needs Now
Pil Official
All Access Rating: A-

Public Image Limited - What
The World Needs Know 2015
With the Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten vented his spleen over England's arcane traditions, sneered at the queen and advocated for anarchy as a political solution. In introducing "Double Trouble," the opening track on Public Image Limited's new album, What The World Needs Now, John Lydon takes a moment to go on a scathing tirade about more mundane concerns.

The plumbing is out, and Lydon is sick and tired of hearing complaints about it, especially when there are bigger issues to tackle, such as corporate greed and American religious hypocrisy. Still fiercely intelligent, his wit as sharp as ever, Lydon tackles the important matters with appropriate vitriol and piercing insight on PiL's arty and seductive, while also engagingly loose and fun, 10th studio album, even as he seems to be getting more cuddly in his advanced age.

There's nothing warm and fuzzy about the vicious "Double Trouble," though, as Lu Edmonds' slashing guitars and the track's relentless drive, irresistibly nasty hook and tightly coiled rhythms seem on the verge of lashing out like a cornered rattlesnake. As the record's lead single, it has a dogged bite to it, as does the mildly abrasive "Know Now" and menacing, brooding discord of "Corporate," which seems to puff up and bruise as if punched repeatedly about the face. Tying together the obsession over pornography in the U.S. and the country's supposed Christian morality, Lydon and company pay tribute to a pin-up legend in "Bettie Page," a moody, gritty piece of post-punk noir and edgy pop that segues nicely into the cinematic, twinkling "C' Est La Vie" and the dark, serrated "Spice of Choice," with its U2-like atmospherics and chiming guitars.

Aside from Lydon's trademark vocal trill and his curmudgeonly charisma, What The World Needs Now succeeds because of Scott Firth's burbling, subterranean bass lines, the creative drumming of Bruce Smith and Edmonds' subversive musicality. From the soft, hypnotic dub murmur and washing guitars of "Big Blue Sky" to the danceable grooves of "Whole Life Time" and "I'm Not Satisfied," with its stabbing urgency, Public Image Limited continue to redefine and shape the future of post-punk with their restless creativity. And it helps that they have a leader who's still got something to say. If only someone would come along to fix the plumbing.
– Peter Lindblad

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