ALBUM XIII BIS, PLAYGROUND RELEASE:
MAY 5, 2003 REVIEW: APRIL 30, 2003
Front 242 really doesn’t make it easy for a poor reviewer like me.
I’ve been a fan for a long long time, even though they’ve
never been at the absolute top of my list of favourites. I loved that
they tried out new paths on “06:21:03:11 up Evil” and “05:22:09:12
Off”. Coincidentally, the latter also includes one of the best songs
ever - “Crushed”. On these albums they broadened their sound,
and at the same time managed to cram in some good melodies and structures.
But I think my favourite Front effort is "Tyranny for You",
where they brought together hyperelectronic sounds with an upbeat catchiness
only hinted at later.
The band has been relatively quiet for a long time, mostly playing live
and releasing live albums. They got some slack for remaking most of their
classics into rave anthems during the live performances, and have recently
tried to make a small comeback with the disappointing EP “Still
& Raw”. Not willing to let go of the band, my hopes were still
up for the longplayer.
And lo and behold, here it is. I can’t for the life of me get to
grips with it. What did they have in mind? A lot of the stuff sounds like
something that Male or Female or Speedtribe could have released, which
seems wrong. I mean, why release it as Front 242 if it sounds like their
The album gives a very disjointed impression, but still contains some
very good material, interspersed with some more meaningless stuff like
they included on the EP. The music has grown on me since I first heard
it, and might do so for a bit longer. It’s a lot heavier, dirtier
and abrasive than “Still & Raw”, which is a good thing.
Many songs trail off into long ambient segments though, and lose focus.
Anyone looking for the regular Front sound, look elsewhere. If you are
ready for something challenging and different, try it out, but listen
before you buy. Technically speaking it’s very well put together,
musically your mileage may vary.