No Tourists

No Tourists

The cover of The Prodigy’s seventh album features a London bus bearing “THE FOUR ACES” as its final destination—the East London club was where the Essex rave revolutionaries made their live debut in 1991. Almost three decades later, is one of British music’s most forward-thinking bands finally looking back? “I don't really like nostalgia, but we wanted to make a record that tapped into the best parts of what we’re about,” Prodigy mastermind Liam Howlett tells Apple Music. “We’re proud of the roots of the band. Two or three tracks tap back into the first five years, that pirate-radio rave sound—raw and really dirty—that breakbeat sound.” Even with its nods to the past, No Tourists sounds fresh. Its combination of sharp hooks with bone-rattling beats and basslines is flame-sealed by the trio’s anger and intensity. “The last record [2015’s The Day Is My Enemy] was quite violent,” says Howlett. “This is equally aggressive but a bit more melodic. It’s like a cheeky smile but also a punch in the ribs.” It’s hard not to see Britain’s political and social turbulence reflected in “Champions of London,” where Keith Flint barks, “Civil unrest/Grab the bulletproof vest.” “I live in the city,” says Howlett. “You can't help getting affected by things when you’re right in it. It’s why I like living in London: I like the edge of it. More stuff happens.” Howlett estimates he wrote 80 percent of the record with playing it live in mind—a headspace aided by setting up portable studios in hotels while the band toured Europe in 2018. “Without the live side, The Prodigy wouldn’t be here and the music would be vastly different,” he says. “It’s the last untapped thing where you can watch the whites of people’s eyes and see the true reaction in real time—bang. As you play your new song, you know if it’s good straight away—or it’s back to the studio to have another go.”

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