hey should at least have come with an interesting backstory. Really, they should have made something up, something with coincidences and mayhem and triumph. A little addiction-conquering would have been nice, too. But, no, all we get is that Jack Duckworth (of Radio Berlin) and Miss X (DJ Michelle Synnot) started Primes and Miss X left and Tanya Pea replaced her after the album was finished. Since that's not exciting, we're left with the music. I tell you all this to let you know I tried to find something nice to say.
The music fits into its era. How's that? The group melds distorted synthesizers with heavy bass and beats that range from club to industrial to IDM (minus some of the I). The duo attempts to be danceable, but they don't know much about booties if they think this will get them shaking. The beats grind ahead at a steady four-beat clip, lacking syncopation or variation. I could also use a cymbal. "Loving the Stranger" shows the band at its most dull, the beats nearly disappear in their own plodding. With thin synth textures and a forgettable bassline, we're left only with Duckworth's scrape of a vocal. I think he's saying something important, but I don't really care.
Primes suffer most when they get into industrial. If their dancier beats are plodding, their industrial beats are tired. And also dead. You can find some Nine Inch Nails influence throughout the disc, but without the creativity I'll grant that act. Primes might have been better served to go after industrial whole-heartedly, rather than with a dilettante's concept of play. While a group like Death From Above 1979 can fit in with the metal that influenced it, Primes fit in with neither the dance-punk nor the industrial that its members listen to.
For that reason, the group sounds its best when it approaches a post-punk groove. Closer to PiL than less metallic forebears, Primes do occasionally let themselves cut loose, but they need a little more of this energy. They bore when robotic, and they don't redeem when human. Partly the failure is a result of milling around in a musical wasteland between styles, but primarily it stems from a lack of interesting ideas or sounds.
Somewhere in all this mess, Primes might have a message. They might have important things to say about politics. They could be redefining human relations. They might sing paradigm-altering philosophies. If that's the case, then next time they might try surrounding it with engaging music.
They could use a cowbell, too.