Public Image Ltd., This is PiL

Mikael Wood

By Mikael Wood

on 05.28.12 in Reviews

This is PiL

Public Image Ltd.
Re-enter the PiL Zone

“You are now entering a PiL zone!” John Lydon bellows at the top of the first Public Image Ltd album in 20 years, and indeed you’ll recognize the place straightaway: Backed by the same guys he recruited for PiL’s 2009-’10 reunion tour (including Happy? alums Lu Edmonds and Bruce Smith), Lydon rants and chants in his long-established fashion over swirling, dub-steeped soundscapes that once in a while gather into actual songs. “One Drop” is an early highlight, with the frontman unloading some very Lydon-esque observations on English culture (“We come from chaos / We cannot change us”); later, in “Deeper Water,” Edmonds unleashes the kind of spooky-romantic guitar riff that made PiL heroes to a generation of post-post-punks. Things get a little boggy in the wacky-voices menagerie “Lollipop Opera” and the misleadingly titled “Out of the Woods,” which stretches its middling death-disco groove well beyond the nine-minute mark. But what’s a Lydon album without a bit of bollocks?