It’s precisely two tracks in, when throwaway single ‘Nasty’ pumps through your speakers, that you start to wonder if The Day Is My Enemy is The Prodigy’s Chinese Democracy. “Nasty, nasty, Triple-X-rated, deep down, deep down, so raw!” screeches Flint on the single, in an explosion of ‘cool buzz’ verbal diarrhoea. It’s a nonsense of catchphrases clung together with laser-bass and an intro that sounds depressingly like it’s going to become something better. ‘Firestarter’, specifically. The lyrics feel like listening to a young granddad play rave culture word-association. It’s such a spectacular mis-hit – drift racing movie cannon fodder beats aside – that it’s really hard to pin down how ‘Nasty’ became a single at all. On the flip side, there’s ‘Ibiza’, lent promise by the presence of glorious punk bitchmasters themselves Sleaford Mods. It’s got a hint of heady ‘Parklife’ remix in sharp parody form (“eight quid a packet? Fuck that I’m on the baccy mate”), but it has bite and heart, and it’ll make you chuckle. Most of that, admittedly, comes from the ‘Mods.
Let’s give The Prodigy fair dues, though. At a quarter of a century old, and traditionally making the kind of demonic racket that gets flippantly tagged as ‘yoof musik’, they were always going to lose a bit of edge at some stage, and musically they still stand up a lot of the time. The riffs are heady, the pace relentless and the power unforgiving. It’s just so dated, and has some embarrassingly misguided lyrical moments. ‘Rhythm Bomb’ is like Kiesza’s ‘Hideaway’ meets ‘Smack Ya Bitch Up’; and odd fusion at best. ‘Wild Frontier’ is frankly just a mess. But this could still be nobody else.
Aside from the gloriously silly but highly memorable ‘Ibiza’, ‘Destroy’ is perhaps the album’s best moment. It simply embraces what The Prodigy are: masters of the party at the end of the world. There’s no lyrical stupidity, plenty of ravey moments, bass and breakbeats, and it clatters through the neurons and flickers flames across your mind’s eye.
The problem that The Prodigy face, perhaps, is that rather than develop, their genre has largely trotted off our plain and into hedonistic decay, standing still while the world moves on. That means the sound hasn’t developed greatly, and the band stand aside the dystopian wasteland looking for new ways to twist something that frankly they were wringing every drop out of two albums ago. It’s a diluted, rehashed drift down memory lane, even if the whole things sounds like it would blow any venue to pieces live.
This is the kind of album that would sound pretty solid stuck on LOUD at a party after six or eight cans. It might even be memorable at times, but next to The Prodigy’s finer moments The Day Is My Enemy sounds trite, awkward and for the most part an album too far.