Norah Jones “The Fall” review

Norah has taken a new direction on the The Fall, experimenting with different sounds and a new set of collaborators, including Jacquire King, a noted producer and engineer who has worked with Kings of Leon, Tom Waits and Modest Mouse. Read our review

Norah Jones

Artist: Norah Jones
Title: The Fall
Label: Blue Note
Rating: 6.5/10

Corporate Line: Norah has taken a new direction on the The Fall, experimenting with different sounds and a new set of collaborators, including Jacquire King, a noted producer and engineer who has worked with Kings of Leon, Tom Waits and Modest Mouse. Jones enlisted several songwriting collaborators, including Ryan Adams and Okkervil River’s Will Sheff, as well as her frequent partners Jesse Harris & Richard Julian. Musicians include drummers Joey Waronker (Beck, R.E.M.) and James Gadson (Bill Withers), keyboardist James Poyser (Erykah Badu, Al Green), and guitarists Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello) and Smokey Hormel (Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer). The first single/video is for the album’s lead track ‘Chasing Pirates’.

1. Chasing Pirates – A Lovely song that isn’t far from the Norah Jones that fans have come to know and love. If anything, its quite accessible for those who might hear Jones for the very first time. [9/10]

2. Even Though – Where as “Chasing Pirates” lived in the Norah Jones of old it was also sexy and available to all–this song is a bit less so. It’s pretty–but can be a tad slow. [8/10]

3. Light As A Feather – Instead of that jazzy little singer, Jones sounds positively tough in an Aimee Mann sort of way. [7/10]

4. Young Blood – It doesn’t seem to bode well that this song could be mistaken for a number of singers. It’s missing something–a key ingrediant. Some cohesive piece that ties it into the rest of the album. [4/10]

5. I Wouldn’t Need You – The husky voice and somber tone are back and its a place Jones should never leave. [6/10]

6. Waiting – Simple, maybe too simple. It’s a barren song with a bit too much twinkling and too little of Jones’ voice. [5/10]

7. It’s Gonna Be -It’s good to hear Jones get out of her comfort zone. Too bad she shot so far out of her zone that she overshot into something that sounds a bit uncomfortable. [5/10]

8. You’ve Ruined Me – Devoid of soul. Boring. [4/10]

9. Back To Manhattan – Jones finally finds her groove once again and sucks you back into her beautifully soulful voice. [7/10]

10. Stuck – This isn’t as far out of her comfort zone as “Young Blood”–and doesn’t sound nearly as confused or painful. However, the guitar solo could have been left somewhere far behind. [6/10]

11. December – Certainly a pretty track–but it’s almost too slow. There is something nearly painful about how far Jones has to drag out each and every syllable. [6/10]

12. Tell Yer Mama – A bit too falsely southern for even Jones, who can seemingly slip-in-and-out of any skin. [6/10]

13. Man of the Hour – Jones may not be able to choose between “a vegan and a pothead” but she did choose a good song. It’s sad that this was saved until last when it could have surely boosted up the middle of the album. It’s proof positive that Jones still has such a strong jazz soul and that perhaps it was her biggest mistake stepping out of that. [8/10]

Frankly: Norah Jones is a great. But that doesn’t mean every song she writes/sings is great. But Jones is always good for a handful of great tracks. “Chasing Pirates” and “Man of the Hour” stand out. The rest is mostly hit or miss. Unlike albums in Jones’ past, “The Fall” isn’t nearly cohesive enough. If only “The Fall” could have found a foothold in “Chasing Pirates.”

Ledisi – Turn Me Loose – music review

2009 album from the Grammy Award-nominated vocalist featuring songs produced by Raphael Saadiq, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Chief XCel, Chucky Thompson, Rex Rideout and others. Although Ledisi was a seasoned artist before joining Verve, she says she is still finding herself musically.

ledisi-turn-me-loose

Artist: Ledisi
Title: Turn Me Loose
Label: Verve
Rating: 8/10

Corporate line:
2009 album from the Grammy Award-nominated vocalist featuring songs produced by Raphael Saadiq, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Chief XCel, Chucky Thompson, Rex Rideout and others. Although Ledisi was a seasoned artist before joining Verve, she says she is still finding herself musically. Turn Me Loose is a turning point in her artistic evolution. “During the making of this record, I was asking myself, ‘How do I maintain the listeners I have now and be myself as I today? That was the struggle. But I knew I needed to stretch myself and be more open to different people.” Features the first single ‘Goin’ Thru Changes’.

Latest Reviews:
LA Times: “Yet for all the sleek settings and the vocal firepower Ledisi deploys, “Turn Me Loose” doesn’t really present an artistic persona any more memorable than the earnest traditionalist from “Lost & Found.” Ledisi extols the power of transformation but fails to demonstrate who precisely she’s become.”
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Dallas Morning News: “While Lost & Found is definitely worth a listen, the record comes off restrained, even sleepy at times. Some of this newfound artistic stomp emerged on, of all things, Ledisi’s 2008 holiday disc, It’s Christmas. With Turn Me Loose, Ledisi busts open the door and boldly steps outside.”
Rating: A-
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About.com: “This album though, is more like a small river; it can also be relaxing, but there’s also enough going on to make you want to come back from time to time. And Turn Me Loose is definitely worth repeat listening.”
Rating: 3.5/5
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SoulTracks:
“When Ledisi’s voice is the only element making any of it make sense, making any cohesion of this material, her music becomes a frustrating work. Ledisi is a jazzy, funky, soulful powerhouse of an artist, so do what the album says and just turn her loose already! We think she’s so much better that way.”
Rating: Recommended
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THR Reviews: “Still, like a true woman, Ledisi keeps growing as she takes the good with the bad.”
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Billboard: “Still, like a true woman, Ledisi keeps growing as she takes the good with the bad.”
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Sean Paul – Imperial Blaze – music reviews

Read the latest reviews from around the web for Sean Paul’s new album “Imperial Blaze”

Sean Paul Imperial Blaze
Sean Paul Imperial Blaze
Artist: Sean Paul
Title: Imperial Blaze
Label: Atlantic
Average of Ratings: 7/10

Latest reviews:

Entertainment Weekly: “Paul is arguably the ablest pop ambassador Jamaican music 
 has ever had who isn’t surnamed Marley.”
Rating: B+
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Express Night Out: “With lyrics like that, perhaps Jamaica’s social concerns just aren’t in Paul’s wheelhouse. But love and lust each sound the same in any culture — and that seems to be exactly what’s straight from Sean Paul’s heart.”
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Slant Magazine: “The best songs have a scuttling flow that plays laidback reggae off surging, modern hip-hop beats. But these moments are infrequent and fail to change the fact that as both a singer and MC Paul is a nonentity, a mostly featureless blob void of charisma.”
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5
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USA Today: “He smartly sticks to his roots, and shows no signs of flaming out.”
Rating: 3 out of 4
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Jessie James – Jessie James – music reviews

Recorded in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, and London, the album takes off with ‘Wanted’, the full-throttle Dance-Rock scorcher that Jessie co-wrote with American Idol judge and hit songwriter Kara DioGuardi. There’s also ‘Bullet’, a catchy Rock gem co-written with pal Katy Perry.

Jessie James
Jessie James
Artist: Jessie James
Title: Jessie James
Label: Mercury Records
Rating: 6.5/10

Corporate line: Recorded in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, and London, the album takes off with ‘Wanted’, the full-throttle Dance-Rock scorcher that Jessie co-wrote with American Idol judge and hit songwriter Kara DioGuardi. There’s also ‘Bullet’, a catchy Rock gem co-written with pal Katy Perry.

Latest reviews:

Entertainment Weekly:
“Roots-music purists love to complain about their inability to distinguish current Nashville product from poppy Top 40 fare. This 20-year-old Georgia native never knew there was supposed to be a difference.”
Rating: B+
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Billboard.com: “Judging by some of the song titles (“Guilty,” “My Cowboy,” “Wanted”) on her self-titled debut, one could say that 20-year-old Georgia newcomer Jessie James lives up to her name as the female version of the American outlaw.”
Rating: 78
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Slant: “While she’s able to pull off that bad-girl vamp far more convincingly than Underwood, that isn’t saying much, and James certainly doesn’t hold a candle to Aguilera at her skankiest.”
Rating: 2/5 stars
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Roughstock: “She’s a unique enough talent, despite her real similarities to other artists, to recommend this album to anyone (probably under 30) who’s willing to look beyond genre definitions or who already is at least a little bit interested in pop music.”
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Third Eye Blind – Ursa Major – music reviews

Get the latest reviews of Third Eye Blind’s new album “Ursa Major”

Third Eye Blind - Ursa Major
Third Eye Blind - Ursa Major
Artist: Third Eye Blind
Title: Ursa Major
Label: MegaForce
Rating: 6/10

Latest reviews:

Entertainment Weekly: “What ever happened to ‘Brother, brother’? ” It simply doesn’t get any worse than that.”
Rating: C+
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THRReviews: “”Ursa Major” isn’t Third Eye Blind’s crowning jewel, but it’s a welcome return to form after such a lengthy hiatus.”
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StrangeGlue: “When Ursa Major isn’t being plain ridiculous, it’s usually being ridiculously dull.”
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Smalrus.com:
“It’s now become quite evident that whether we like it or not, 3EB albums are going to be both kitschy 90’s pop-rock and 90’s politballads, completely throwing direction to the wind.”
Rating: 6/10
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Weworemasks: “Despite a few shifty lyrics, there’s very little filler on the record. It’s hard to imagine that the rabid fanbase of the band will find themselves disappointed with Ursa Major, especially in a time when uninspired pop-rock bands are coming out of the woodwork.”

George Strait – Twang – music reviews

“Twang” is the follow-up to the platinum selling and CMA Album of the Year, Troubadour. The debut single, “Living For The Night” is the first single as a songwriter. Strait was recently recognized by the Academy of Country Music as the Artist of the Decade and was honored in a primetime CBS TV special.

George Strait - Twang
George Strait Twang
Artist: George Strait
Title: Twang
Label: MCA Nashville
Average rating: 7.5/10

About “Twang”:
“Twang” is the follow-up to the platinum selling and CMA Album of the Year, Troubadour. The debut single, “Living For The Night” is the first single as a songwriter. Strait was recently recognized by the Academy of Country Music as the Artist of the Decade and was honored in a primetime CBS TV special.

Latest reviews:

Billboard: “George Strait put out his first album, “Strait Country,” in 1981. After 28 years, you’d think it would be tough coming up with new twists to captivate audiences. But apparently not for King George, whose latest album, “Twang,” is among the finest collections of songs he’s released.”
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LA Times: “‘Twang’ serves as a pretty nifty summation of what commercial country is, circa 2009. Strait’s albums have sometimes suffered from stylistic predictability, and this one, like his others, doesn’t dive very deep into emotional territory, but it’s still a standout in a long, hit-filled repertory.”
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Entertainment Weekly:
“Listening to George Strait put his hallowed voice through its paces on yet another album of immaculately recorded tracks, it’s clear that Twang will inevitably top the country charts, yield approximately three hit singles, and sell upwards of a million copies — just like the ageless Texan’s done nearly every year since 1981.”

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Boston.com: “He returns to some gritty honky-tonk later on, but not enough. The most impressive part of the album is that Strait co-wrote three songs – the first time he’s written since his 1982 debut album.”
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Hartford Courant: “It’s the only surprise on the steady, sturdy “Twang,” and that’s nothing but a compliment.”
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9513 Country Music: “What it is, of course, is a typical George Strait album, ripe with a few excellent cuts and a whole lot of forgettable though exquisitely produced filler. But mind-blowing it ain’t. At least not if you’ve been paying attention over the past 28 years.”
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Roughstock.com:
“Once again, George Strait has proven just why he is still at the top of his game thirty years into his career. While he could easily churn out album after album simply to sate his fans, he seems to be making an ever-increasing effort to blend his long-established, easy-going style with a few little variations. It’s comfortable without being formulaic, different without feeling schizophrenic. In other words, it’s a George Strait album, so you know it’s going to be top-notch.”
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Miami Herald: “Maybe this type of quality control is what allows Strait to buck the odds that say his kind has no place on shallow mainstream radio.”
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Washington Post:
“Thankfully, though, Strait continues to keep both feet firmly planted in tradition, no matter what language he’s singing in.”
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Time Out New York: “Twang feels unusually intimate as a result, but the pro-penned stuff isn’t quite as strong as that found on last year’s Troubadour or 2006’s terrific It Just Comes Natural.”
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ParcBench:
“Buy the album”
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Dallas Morning News:
“After nearly three decades of influential country music, Strait has nothing to prove. How cool that Twang sounds as if he does.”
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Arctic Monkeys – “At The Apollo” CD and DVD review

Arctic Monkeys - At The Apollo
Arctic Monkeys - At The Apollo
Artist: Arctic Monkeys
Title: At The Apollo
Label: Warner Bros.
Rating: 6/10

Corporate line:
Exclusive two disc (DVD/CD) U.S. edition includes a bonus 10 track live album recorded in Austin, Texas (exclusive to this release). “At The Apollo” is the first ever official live DVD release by the Arctic Monkeys. The 76 minute film documents the last gig of their 2007 world tour at the Manchester Apollo. It was directed by Richard Ayoade who has directed music videos for Super Furry Animals, Vampire Weekend and The Last Shadow Puppets but is better known as an actor in The Mighty Boosh and The I.T. Crowd. Disc extras include two bonus tracks, a split screen option for the first half of the film and a multi-angle option with Matt Helders drum track.

The review:
First off, this DVD is raw. Raw like your cousin in his first year of film school shot it. But that is also the sort of thing you’d expect from the Arctic Monkeys. As a fan it’s impossible to complain about the music. The songs are all great. After all, we gave the two CDs they’ve released raving reviews. But the sound quality on this CD leaves a lot to be desired. There are some interesting tracks for the completely uninitiated Arctic Monkeys fan: “Da Frame 2R” and “Plastic Tramp.” But those aren’t going to make up for the lack of quality on the DVD.

The CD fares better than the DVD. The sound quality is a bit sloppy in the beginning but gets better–as if the guy woke up at the soundboard a few songs in.

Finally:
“At The Apollo” is no substitute for missing an Arctic Monkeys show. It might be a cool piece of memorabilia if you got to see them and wanted to remind yourself how cool they were in person, but you’ll never convince friends that the show was great by watching the DVD.

Peter Doherty – Grace/Wastelands – review

Libertines and Babyshambles leader Peter Doherty finds himself constantly at the center of a hurricane of media attention, a windstorm of publicity that constantly keeps him in the public consciousness.

Peter Doherty - Grace Wastelands
Peter Doherty - Grace Wastelands
Artist: Peter Doherty
Title: Grace/Wastlands
Label: EMI
Rating: 8/10

Corporate line:
Libertines and Babyshambles leader Peter Doherty finds himself constantly at the center of a hurricane of media attention, a windstorm of publicity that constantly keeps him in the public consciousness.

“Grace/Wasteland” is a brave exploration into the eye of the hurricane. Recorded over a month of sessions in autumn 2008 at London’s legendary Olympic Studios with producer Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur, Cranberries, Kaiser Chiefs), Peter Doherty brings to life a collection of songs many which have existed since the heady days with The Libertines. Without the guise of The Libertines and Babyshambles to hide behind, never before have we seen Doherty so personal, raw, and vulnerable in his songwriting. Ripe with lyrical insights, Doherty’s main themes are present and truthful – his troubles with youth, music, love and addiction are all revealed.

Adding color to Doherty’s compositions is Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, appearing on nearly every track, instilling in the music his pedigree and refi ned studio nous. Scottish singer Dot Allison (One Dove) and poet Peter “Wolfman” Wolfe also make contributions to the record.

Review:
“Arcady” – A beautiful song that trips along from a poet and his guitar. It’s the beauty of Doherty’s simple strumming with a nice melody that has made so many fall in love with his music.
“Last of the English Roses” – Doherty makes the simple beautiful. It sounds very familiar. Any fan of Babyshambles won’t find the verses anything new—however the chorus is simply beautiful.

“1939 Returning” – This is an interesting song. “Tread carefully so carefully/ Upon the drifting ice/ Caught behind enemy lines/ In 1939/ For Germany he sacrificed his life/
Caught behind enemy lines/ There in 1939.” If it all is meaningless its still beautiful with a gorgeous melody and Doherty’s voice to carry it along. A brilliant song. Doherty is all his glory.

“A Little Death Around the Eyes” – Quite a bizarre song about a woman who “cooks and cleans when I tell you to” and “screw when I tell you to.” It survives because of the soul of its singer.

“Salome” – Another score. Doherty writes the sweetest little ditties. Its amazing how stripped down and barren they are and yet he easily supports every moment.

“I Am the Rain” – “My cousin the snow lays blankets below” shows how simple little verses hooked into beautiful choruses can pass right through you and have you singing along as if you grew up with it.

“Sweet by and By”- This is a swing and miss. Doherty comes off like a hack and it would have been better to just leave this behind or throw it on a B-side.

“Palace of Bone” – Not entirely painful. It comes off as some bizarre hilly-billy rock track.

“Sheepskin Tearaway” f/Dot Allison – Maybe the worst song title ever, but don’t let that stop you from listening. It’s a surprisingly gorgeous. Allison is a perfect counterpart.

“Broken Love Song” – This song is saved by the chorus. Doherty is able to take nothing more than repetition of “they are the loneliest” and extend it into a charming melody.

“New Love Grows on Trees” – Doherty slips another gem in.

“Lady Don’t Fall Backwards” – Another one that could have been left behind.

Finally:
If you’ve been dying for a new Babyshambles record than you’ll be quite satisfied. If you’ve found that the old Doherty gems you’ve loved for years have grown old and you need something new to your teeth into then “Grace/Wastelands” fits the bill. This isn’t Doherty reinventing himself and it doesn’t matter. Fans love Doherty for his songs and ability to pull so much out of so little. “Grace/Wastelands” is no different. Doherty might add a bit more production but the songs remain the same. Tender, intimate and damn good.

Watch Peter Doherty talk about the album:

Watch the video for “The Last of the English Roses”

Keri Hilson – In a Perfect World – review

Nurtured between Timbaland’s Mosley Music Group and Polow’s Zone 4 Inc., “In A Perfect World…” boasts amazing sounds from a slew of hitmakers like Timbaland, Polow, and Danja. The album features guest appearances by Timbaland, Lil Wayne, Akon, Keyshia Cole, and Ne-Yo.

Keri Hilson - Perfect World
Keri Hilson - Perfect World
Artist: Keri Hilson
Title: In a Perfect World
Label: Interscope
Rating: 6/10

Corporate line:
Nurtured between Timbaland’s Mosley Music Group and Polow’s Zone 4 Inc., “In A Perfect World…” boasts amazing sounds from a slew of hitmakers like Timbaland, Polow, and Danja. The album features guest appearances by Timbaland, Lil Wayne, Akon, Keyshia Cole, and Ne-Yo. It’s a watershed moment that meets both goals-it sounds and feels great. Speaking up for all the ladies, In A Perfect World . . . also looks to empower women to be strong, independent and determined. “No human is exempt from the realities of life- heartbreak, failure, success…” Keri comments. This takes all forms throughout the album which reveals Keri’s ability to translate every day trials and tribulations into engaging music.

Review:
“Turning Me On” f/ Lil Wayne – Vanilla pop track with Lil Wayne doing his thing with digital vocal effects and all. We could use less of the vocal effects. Seriously. It’s getting old.

“Get Your Money Up” – Same deal. Vanilla pop song except this time Hilson takes the robotic vocal effects from Wayne and slaps them on her voice. It’s past lame.

“Return the Favor” f/Timbaland – Hilson gets to what she does best—singing. Timbaland offers a good partner as they go back and forth. Finally, Timbaland gets the best out of Hilson.

“Knock You Down” f/Kanye West & Neyo – Nice hook and again Hilson gets to show her chops.

“Slow Dance” – It’s slow and boring.

“Make Love” – Unlike “Slow Dance,” this ballad is actually sexy and interesting. It has a great hook and will instantly get you singing along.

“Intuition” – The middle portion of the album slows down too much and after two slower tracks “Intuition” starts to wear you out.

“How Does It Feel” – Ditto “Intuition”

“Hey Girl” f/T.Pain – Not a bad track, but there is a reason it comes so late in the album. It’s not up to par with the openers.

“Alienated” – There are parts of the song that are interesting but it’s not really cohesive and that keeps the song from being good.

“Tell Him the Truth” – Boring.

“Change Me” f/Akon – Finally, after a lot of painful tracks Akon joins Hilson and they put together a good song. Akon steals the show.

“Energy” – This comes down to the end of the album and its one of the best songs. I wonder why anyone decided to bury it.

“Where Did He Go?” – Hilson knows how to make a song sexy.

Finally: Keri Hilson is sexy and has some tracks that let her prove she can sing, too. But she doesn’t separate herself from all the other wanna-be divas.

The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die – review

The fifth studio album by the acclaimed and controversial British Electronic act. As one of the most successful and respected Dance groups of recent times, this album sees the return of both Keith Flint and Maxim to the fold for their most exciting album to date. Included are collaborations with Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and James Rushent (Does It Offend You Yeah).

The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die
The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die
Artist: The Prodigy
Title: Invaders Must Die
Label: R.E.D.
Rating: 6/10

Corporate line:
The fifth studio album by the acclaimed and controversial British Electronic act. As one of the most successful and respected Dance groups of recent times, this album sees the return of both Keith Flint and Maxim to the fold for their most exciting album to date. Included are collaborations with Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and James Rushent (Does It Offend You Yeah).

The good:
“Invaders Must Die” – Solid dance mix with one of the hottest beats you’ll hear in a long time. It’s the kind of beat that sings to you without needing to say a single word. Actually we wish no one would have said a word.

“Thunder” – Finally Prodigy get a good mix of vocals and beats –even if the same lyrics are repeated a hundred times: “I hear thunder/ but there’s no rain/ this type of thunder breaks walls and windowpane.”

“Warrior’s Dance” – A blitzing soundscape that gets so much closer to where you’d hope this trio would be by now. It’s got a spooky close encounters vibe three minutes in and it never relents.

“Omen Reprise” – It’s bizarre—the reprise actually sounds more relevant. I wonder where they dug up the Phantom of the Opera.

The rest:
“Run with the Wolves” – The reason most people don’t take Prodigy seriously isn’t the sick beats—it’s the stupid rhymes.

“Omen” – A track that sounds like Prodigy is trying way too hard to be dark and cool. It’s neither. The beats are fairly good—but the rhymes are crap.

“Colours” – The lyrics are horrible and the beats sound like colorful noise.

“Piranha” – Seriously? Who writes this crap anyway? It sounds like it came straight from some bad ‘70s movie.

Finally:
The bad news about The Prodigy is that they still don’t know how to get away from the crap. The good news is that The Prodigy can still tear it up. The “Invaders Must Die” album is completely schizophrenic. You have songs like “Invaders Must Die” and “Thunder” which can hang with their classics and then songs like “Piranha” which would get them tossed on their asses. Download the good and be glad you never heard the bad.