Published Mar 16, 2016If there's one exception to the rule that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, it's Primal Scream. Despite turning 35 years old next year, the veteran Scottish band still have the ability to sound as fresh as any up-and-coming act's debut. Reteaming with Peter Bjorn & John's Bjorn Yttling, who produced the bulk of 2008's Beautiful Future, the Scream may have felt like it was business as usual, but on Chaosmosis, they've tapped into the zeitgeist whether they know it or not.
Obviously, getting Sky Ferreira to duet with Bobby Gillespie was an opportunity to inject some young blood into the album, but "Where The Light Gets In" could easily have been worked for Ferreira's album instead, with a dark and dangerous vibe that's versatile enough to belong to either artist. "Carnival Of Fools," which fizzes with a hard-popping rhythm that Yttling has no doubt heard in a hundred Scandi-pop singles over the years, and the sprawling wall of wistful synths on "Autumn In Paradise," are every bit as enticing.
However, as contemporary as Chaosmosis can sound, the band also can't seem to hold back their retro tendencies. "I Can Change" and "Golden Rope" are too immersed in their seeming need to fit gospel music into a pop framework, and it's a bit surprising to see such a stylish band as Haim used to elevate that side of the album. Instead of collaborating like Ferreira, the sisters sing backup on "Trippin' On Your Love," a baggy throwback that sounds like a lost outtake from Screamadelica, and "100% or Nothing," a thrusting retro-rock anthem, making them feel like wasted opportunities for the Scream to explore deeper into pop music.
Chaosmosis isn't a failure, though. It's an uneven effort by a band that specializes in doing whatever the hell feels right. It's a shame Primal Scream weren't able to execute an entire album of contemporary pop songs — that could have been their fourth renaissance. But when you've been rebelling against the confines of music for three-plus decades, it's hard to all of a sudden play it safe. (Ignition)