PiL: What The World Needs Now...

Lydon’s return rolls on...

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What the world wanted in 2012 wasn’t a PiL reunion minus Jah Wobble and Keith Levene. But latter-day band veterans Lu Edmonds (guitar) and Bruce Smith (drums), plus bassist Scott Firth, gave John Lydon the support and dub-wise space he needed to revive his writing and remarkable voice.

What The World Needs Now… continues where 2012’s This Is PiL left off. First single Double Trouble is an unpromising, standard-issue snarl. The real fascination comes, as it did on First Edition back in 1978, in enigmatic songs such as the sinister, sad C’est La Vie, a letter to an unnamed enemy in which Lydon stays vocally restrained.

Big Blue Sky has similar depths, switching between strange lyrical scenes over its eight minutes and bursting into startling pop choruses. It recalls 80s Peter Gabriel, with a darker spiritual spin that’s all Lydon’s own. He sounds like he’s heading for some sort of punk elephants’ graveyard.

Spice Of Choice adds crunching rock drive to positive lyrics typical of 21st-century Johnny. And just in case you thought he was going soft, he finishes with Shoom, a dance track in the style of Derek And Clive. And it’s fucking funny.

Classic Rock 215: New Albums H-Z

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Nick Hasted

Nick Hasted writes about film, music, books and comics for Classic Rock, The Independent, Uncut, Jazzwise and The Arts Desk. He has published three books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), and Jack White: How He Built An Empire From The Blues (2016).