ALBUM REVIEW: Public Image Ltd - What The World Needs Now

PUBLIC IMAGE LTD ... What The World Needs Now (PiL Official)
PUBLIC IMAGE LTD ... What The World Needs Now (PiL Official)

Oh, Mr Lydon you spoil us. After a two-decade wait between the last two PiL albums, along comes another one within three years.

And while it’s not quite the tour de force that their excellent comeback This is PiL was, it’s good to know that even at 59, the man who used to be Johnny Rotten is still in creative mood.

PiL was the first post-punk group, and membership has constantly changed over the years, with Lydon the only constant.

This album was recorded by the same four members as the last one, however, and I’d go far as to say it’s the best line-up in the group’s 37-year history.

Lydon’s vocals are as distinctive and inimitable as ever, and guitarist Lu Edmonds weavs searing, slashing patterns all over the record.

The rhythm section has always been the engine room of PiL, and bassist Scott Firth and drummer Bruce Smith are as tight as they come.

You do wonder what’s going on when Lydon starts opening track Double Trouble by complaining about the toilet being broken again and needing to call a plumber (this is the man who have us Anarchy in the UK, remember).

But the song soon settles into a catchy example of his clever use of wordplay and repetition (with, just maybe, a ‘come and get me’ call to the makers of a well-known household bleach, “Domestos is – domestic bliss”.)

Bettie Page is a paean to the 1950s US pin-up and America (“the greatest pornographic country in the world”, while Know How is driven by the most insistent guitar riff parts, and C’est La Vie is a moody, magnificent song propelled by a meandering bassline.

Spice Of Choice is a close relative of One Drop, one of the standout tracks on the last album, while The One is a groove-driven delight where every member of the group excels – possibly the best song on the record.

Things tail off a little before the madness of final track Shoom, where Lydon rails against everything as “bollocks”, to end the album on a potty-mouthed high note.

Long may it continue. 8/10. GW