Public Image Ltd: This is PiL

Public Image Ltd, This is PiLPublic Image Ltd: This is PiL
Growing up in the punk scene, I loved the Sex Pistols. They were brash and angry, fast and loud. Most of that signature Sex Pistol attitude came courtesy of their mouthpiece Johnny Rotten (nee John Lydon). Unfortunately the band only managed to stick together long enough to produce one studio album. Once I had fully digest Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols and sought out The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle and Spunk, I thought my days with Johnny Rotten and company were over. But wait! I found out that post-Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten formed a new band, Public Image Ltd. I bought Metal Box and my punk-oriented teenage brain did not understand the experimentation with drone music or the reggae and dub undertones. After a few listens, Metal Box was out of rotation and my experiences with PiL came to a close…or so I thought.
PiL is reunited and recording new music. Their first album, since 1992’s That What Is Not, is This is PiL. I do not know if I have evolved or if two decades away from music has made PiL evolve but This is PiL might be the band’s most accessible album to date.
“One Drop” features a post-punk instrumental similar to Chairs Missing-era Wire. Over the top is John Lydon doing a hybrid singing/ranting about his childhood in London. “Lollipop Opera” is arguably the album’s strongest track. It features a mixture of post-punk guitars with an electronic drum beat while Lydon mostly rants. It ends up sounding like Big Audio Dynamite on a bad acid trip.
Not every track is a winner though. The album’s opening, titular track “This is PiL” is practically unlistenable. The track features Lydon making guttural sounds while mostly saying “This is PiL for just over three minutes. The drug-influenced “The Room I Am in” is three minutes of banal fluff that sounds like something Pink Floyd would have recorded minutes before Roger Waters passed out.
Despite those two noticeable low notes, they are not indicative of the album as a whole. For the most part, the album is quite listenable . It makes me want to go back and revisit Metal Box to see if I missed something all those years ago.
Rating: 7.8/10
MP3: Public Image Ltd “Lollipop Opera”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl

Leave a Reply