The slow re-introduction to the Primitives has finally culminated in a full length album of new material! After eons away, they returned to action in 2011 with an EP (see review here), then graced us with an interesting covers record in 2012 (review here) and finally they teased us with the fun way pre-LP single, “Lose the Reason,” back in February of 2013 (review here). They have always been a stellar singles band and luckily, “Lose the Reason” is included here.
It’s interesting to listen to new music from this band now. I don’t know how to quantify my feelings for them. I was a fan of theirs ever since hearing the spiky and endlessly addictive “Crash” back in 1988 and loved a lot of their songs, but never found their albums to be strong from start to finish. Plus, I don’t think I fully realized back then how much of a 60s influence they had – it was simply somewhat disguised by speed and buzz in most of the songs. It was the speed, brevity and feedback that caught me initially, so when they bring out their full blown 60s pop songs, I find myself missing the electricity. About half of this new album sounds as if it were actually written and recorded in the UK back in 1965-66. The songs fronted by songwriter/guitarist Paul Court especially capture this vibe. “Wednesday World” relies on a spiraling rhythm, scratchy strumming guitars, Court’s mellow vocals, and drums relegated to the left side of the mix, but I have to say it sounds pretty fresh anyway. Court decides to drop out on his breezy anti-9 to 5-work ode “Working Isn’t Working,” which is a sentiment I can definitely get behind (“I like to sit around”), but it’s actually the liveliness of the buzzing guitars and heavy pounding of the drums that emphasizes the chorus that sparks this song. Less effective is the trippy (though, thankfully super brief) “Purifying Tone” and the okay, but somewhat aimless instrumental “Velvet Valley.” Primary singer Tracy Tracy takes the lead on a couple of other Summer of Love style psychedelic pop songs with “Follow the Sun Down” and the bouncy “Dandelion Seed.”
Thankfully, the Primitives have not abandoned their edge and they’ve clearly retained their strength for creating fantastic timeless pop songs in three minutes or less. Lead off song, title track and single, “Spin-O-Rama,” is every bit the quality of “Crash” and quite reminiscent as well, with its cleanly picked guitar opening leading into a chugging number with handclaps and a serious hook (The single B-Side is the trippy, but really fun “Up So High,” making the single a must-have). Likewise, the sheer fun whoosh of the organ in “Lose the Reason” places a thrill down the spine. Meanwhile, “Hidden in the Shadows” allows Tracy Tracy to urge us the look for our own truths and directions and avoid being “tricked by a trend / fooled by a fad” with the same kind of distant disgust at what she’s seeing as she sang in the old favorite “Sick of It” way back in the late 80s. It’s the song “Petals,” however, that has me truly realizing why I love this band and can never ignore them. The rush and buzz and energy is in full bloom inside this treat, which rivals any of their great singles from the original days till now. I absolutely cannot understand how songs like this cannot be huge worldwide hits, but what do I know?
Have a truly resolved my feelings for this band, or this album? I’m not sure. It’s a mixed bag, but overall with such great highs, it’s damn nice to listen to new material from this group! It also helps that I have grown up and have a better understanding of both their influences and their massive influence. Treat yourself and enjoy.
The Primitives "Spin-O-Rama"