“I am John, and I was born in London! I am no vulture, this is my culture!”
20yrs have passed since we’ve seen new material from John(ny) ‘Rotten’ Lydon’s long-term love, and as with all (or most) things British it’s been worth the wait as Public Image Ltd. hasn’t returned half-heartedly.
The 4 tracks that make up One Drop EP – which first came out on vinyl as a nod to the physical format many people still have time for; but I got it on download – serve as a taster to the new album This is PiL which is out in a matter of a days. Stylistically, this sounds like post-late-’70s-pre-mid-’80s-PiL, meaning that there is a strong pop presence on there, but, as expected, pushed slightly off-kilter so as to sound pretty unique, pretty PiL.
The title track, which is undoubtedly the most commercial sounding, sounds as if it could’ve been recorded by an early line-up as there’s dubby bass and bright chords dancing around Lydon’s ever-so-slightly aged voice. Lyrically – if I’m not mistaken – it seems to be about the cultural diversity of the city he grew up in, and/or being passionate about maintaining a stand.
I Must Be Dreaming sounds more like it could be straight late-’80s PiL, and though I haven’t heard it live, it sounds like it would be great in that situation, hearing that reverb-laden guitar breathe from an amp over synth squelches.
The Room I Am In follows a formula not unfamiliar to PiL: verses spoken virtually a capella, then repeated in singing form as the music brews in.
Lollipop Opera, which was shared online for free before this EP came out, is a track I liked straight away, though some people found it to be a grower. The didgeridoo-sounding bass and virtual chorus of something like “tic-a-toc, tic-a-toc to the rock of the lollipop opera” demonstrates what I like most about PiL – being colourful and slightly humorous, slightly random. You won’t see this chart, and that’s why it’s worth hearing.
The iTunes version of the EP comes with a little music video of the title track, not essential though as it just looks like the band are faffing around with a modern consumer video camera.
Considering that all these tracks will be on the album it might be worth just holding out for that; but the EP doesn’t cost much to download and is worth a try if you’re unsure about PiL.
Lydon is definitely not just capitalising off his past reputation here, this is solid stuff by him and his band. A worthy addition to the catalogue.