Sound — 3
Primal Scream have been around since the early 1980s, where over the course of their career have explored a variety of genres encompassing elements of indie pop, psychedelic rock, garage rock, dance pop and electronica. This same bewildering stylistic assortment blended into the breakthrough installment in Primal Scream's discography, 1991's "Screamadelica," which set the bar for which this Scottish collective would aim to surpass (with varying levels of success) over the course of the next several decades. Some albums such as the follow-up "Give Out But Don't Give Up" showed Primal Scream's uncanny tendency to alternate between genre, as this effort showed a departure into blues rock, whereas their praised 1997 release "Vanishing Point" landed somewhere in between as the band explored those same experimental rock and dub territories while still finding time to pay homage to bands like Motörhead and The Stooges.
With their identity recognized, it isn't overtly surprising to find the awkward presentation which Primal Scream have assembled on their eleventh studio album "Chaosmosis," however the impression left is that there just wasn't enough time and effort set into allowing the formula to develop for the bulk of this release. Coming off the success of 2013's "More Light," which boasted the hit single "It's Alright, It's OK," we find Primal Scream (with its constantly revolving performing lineup including dozens of guest musicians) somewhat caught off guard among the arrangements which attempt to unify electronica and rock as previously achieved. While the opening track "Trippin' on Your Love" does kick things off to a pleasant, colorful start through it's choice levels of funk guitar highlighted by wah pedal and light hearted vocal harmonies, and the following number "(Feeling Like a) Demon Again" could be interpreted as a proud encapsulation of the new wave era, the vast remainder of "Chaosmosis" fails to conjure up the same hooks and energy as these opening compositions.
Songs like "I Can Change" and "Private Wars" frankly don't sound like the same band as the start of the album; instead, the sonic terrain has been altered into an almost lifeless presentation of jazz rock, which as background music may not cause oneself to gauge their ears but otherwise fails to engage the listener's attention. The outbursts of acoustic guitar and flanger on "100% or Nothing" threatens to disrupt this tension through one of the album's clear highlights, however this is ultimately lost among the bizarre performance on "When the Blackout Meets the Fallout." When Primal Scream does kick into some sort of gear, what comes to fruition is often times an eclectic assortment of songs which, although at times enjoyable, doesn't allow for the complete listening experience one expects from a full-length release. "Where the Light Gets In" conjures up some references to INXS and Duran Duran, which then transitions into the aforementioned "When the Blackout Meets the Fallout" before venturing into "Carnival of Fools," a song which begins to hook the listener with it's Jeff Lynne-esque piano introduction before developing into an unapologetic krautrock composition. Just as "Chaosmosis" begins to formulate some form of potential, the lack of cohesion ultimately grinds matters to a halt and leaves little more than a disruptive collection of songs centered around a complete lack of focus.
Lyrics — 6
For what it's worth, Primal Scream lead vocalist Bobby Gillespie does give a rather consistent performance throughout "Chaosmosis." His melodic phrasing is at times the album's only saving grace, and during the scarce moments where the album develops a highlight are further propelled by his lyrical execution. The choice female backup harmonies which clutter "Chaosmosis" work in a similar fashion, however this also proves to be a dual-edged sword; just as the vocals prove to be a strong suit during the best moments ("Demon Again," "Where the Light Gets In"), they also add to the confusion during the remainder of the album's chaotic compositions.
Overall Impression — 3
Primal Scream find themselves in the midst of chaotic assortment of hectic psychedelia, electronic elements and folk rock character on "Chaosmosis." Although some songs do live up to the expectations previously set by the group's preceeding "More Light" album, and would have been better suited as standalone single releases, "Chaosmosis" fails as a whole due to the album's organization, composition and lack of direct focus.