Anyone who associated '90s electronic rockers the Prodigy with the urgent, primal bark of former vocalists Keith Flint and Maxim might not connect the band's new album with the group who wrote "Firestarter" and "Smack My Bitch Up."
But that doesn't mean the vocals on Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned will sound foreign. Twista, Kool Keith and Oasis' Liam Gallagher will guest on the 12-song disc, due September 15.
One collaboration, called "Hotride," was recorded with someone whose voice isn't as well known as her face: Juliette Lewis. The debut album by her band, Juliette & the Licks, Like a Bolt of Lightning, is also due in September.
"Juliette had so much vocal power, she tore the roof off," group mastermind Liam Howlett said Monday. "It was shocking. I was standing at the desk, nodding at her through the glass, going, 'F---, where did that voice come from?' "
Not only are the Prodigy drawing primarily from guest singers on their first disc in seven years, they're shaking up the musical mix as well. Unlike the songs on 1997's The Fat of the Land, which were limited in scope because they were written to be played live, the new material was penned for maximum studio impact.
"The title says it all about the music and band," Howlett said. "I wanted to make a record that was more old-school, like our second album, [1995's Music for the Jilted Generation.] I wanted to make it sexier and go back to the beats."
The first single from Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned will be "Girls," which Howlett describes as "dirty electro-punk with female vocals." The Prodigy will shoot a gritty, lo-fi video for the track soon, but no director has been named.
The group's song with Liam Gallagher, "Shoot Down," will feature his bandmate and brother, Noel Gallagher, on bass. Kool Keith, who rapped on The Fat of the Land's "Diesel Power," will make a return appearance on "Wake Up Call.
And a wakeup call is exactly what the Prodigy got when they released the single "Baby's Got a Temper" in August 2002. Howlett was so unhappy with the direction the track was taking the group, he decided to start over from square one.
"To be honest, that track kicked me up the ass," he said on the band's Web site in January. "It was the only time I kind of thought, 'Nah, this ain't totally right.' We had to change. It felt like it was a tired formula; it was more like 'Here we go again.' "
The epiphany explains why the Prodigy have been absent for the past two years. What about the other five? "It didn't take seven years [to make this record], it took one year. I played golf for the other six," Howlett joked.
The Prodigy are planning a tour for October.
Track list for Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, according to the group's publicist:
- "Memphis Bells"
- "Get Up Get Off"
- "Wake Up Call"
- "Action Radar"
- "Medusa's Path"
- "You'll Be Under My Wheels"
- "The Way It Is"