'Beautiful Future' is the ninth studio album from Primal Scream. The first album they have released through their new record label B-Unique, its also the first album in the band's extraordinary 26 year history to feature the same marimba and piano that ABBA, no less, used on a string of their most memorable hit singles:
"We did five songs for this album with Bjorn Yttling [from Peter, Bjorn and John] at Atlantis Studios in Stockholm. It's where ABBA recorded 'Dancing Queen' and 'Knowing Me, Knowing You'. And the marimba on one track that Darrin [Mooney, drums] played was the same marimba as on 'Money, Money, Money' and 'SOS'. There's a one-note piano riff Martin Duffy [keyboards] plays, like 'I Wanna Be Your Dog', and that's the 'Dancing Queen' piano."
Finding a route from The Stooges via ABBA is, of course, something you could only expect from Primal Scream, who clearly thrive when messing with received notions of rock'n'roll classicism, from Screamadelica's dub/house/psychedelic party to the dirty vintage-rock thrlls of XTRMNTR.
Beautiful Future promises more of that heady mix of genre-crunching, taking in Philly soul, dark electro, accelerated rock'n'roll riffs and pure British pop - although given that particular Scream edge.
"If you hear this new record of ours from start to finish," explains Bobby, "and you hear all the different sounds and styles and moods, atmospheres and instrumentation that we use, it's different from the last record and different from the record before that. You know, there's not one set Primal Scream song where it's verse-bridge-chorus-middle-eight. But this album is more like a pop record, more like classic songwriting".
Primal Scream began recording Beautiful Future in January 2007. "We've got our own studio in Chalk Farm. And very quickly, within two weeks, we started writing songs we considered good enough. The first single, 'Can't Go Back', was one of the first songs we wrote. They come pretty quickly, when they started coming."
'Can't Go Back', produced by Paul Epworth (Bloc Party, The Rakes) is the kind of high energy rock'n'roll the band excel at, all kinetic drum beats and scuzzy guitar riffs, everything moving at methamphetamine rate. 'Uptown' sees the band tackling the Philly soul sound, privileging the rhythm section of Mooney and Mani, who've rarely sounded tighter. 'Glory Of Love' meanwhile, is delightful post-punk pop, complete with swooning strings and a chocolate box chorus.
The band up the ante with 'Suicide Bomb', Andrew Innes' densely-layered guitar riffs coiling tightly round themselves, everything building to an impressively apocalyptic crescendo, Bobby screaming "I see the beauty in everything". 'Beautiful Summer' is something different again; a dark, melancholic track underscored by a haunting guitar signature and stately keyboard motif from Martin Duffy.
'Zombie Man' finds them throwing themselves into a euphoric glam stomp with fantastic call-and-response chorus. Elsewhere, there's a duet with CSS' Lovefoxxx, 'I Love To Hurt (You Love To Be Hurt)' that's full of shivering electro pulses and tense, claustrophobic rhythms.
Lovefoxx isn't the only guest to appear on the album. British folk icon Linda Thompson duets with Bobby on a beautiful cover of Fleetwood Mac's 'Over And Over' - up there with their take on Dennis Wilson's 'Carry Me Home' as one the finest cover versions the band have ever recorded. Meanwhile, Queens Of The Stone Age's Josh Homme contributes guitar to the album's closing track, 'Necro Hex Blues'.
"When Queens Of The Stone Age were here in December, Josh had a night off and he came over to the studio and jammed," says Bobby. "We did a version of 'Fire Of Love', the Jody Reynolds' song. And then we had a live instrumental jam that we turned into a song. We kept Josh's guitar from the jam and wrote a song around it."
Then there's the title track itself, possibly the most cheery song the band have ever written - jaunty pianos, hummable chorus, that kind of thing. Until you clock a listen to the lyrics and you realise Bobby is singing about "empty houses, burning cars, naked bodies hanging from the trees". Ah. "We do a lot of ecstatic stuff, 'Movin' On Up', 'Country Girl', we're good at ecstatic music. Not a lot of people are. But I think it's nice to have the lyrics being the way they are, kinda mocking and sarcastic, with that big, happy chorus."
For a man who's been making music for over quarter of a century now, it's reassuring that Bobby still has passion for what he does. Considering, too, that Primal Scream have made some of the most thrilling and important records of the modern era, it's just as comforting to know that plans are being made for Primal Scream beyond Beautiful Future?
"Already I'm thinking about the next record," says Bobby. "This has freed us up to do something else. We always try and find a new way of writing, use different instruments. Write rhythmically instead of melodically, but this time we've written melodically, so there's a lot of melody on the record, so that's different right away. The last record was more rock'n'roll, more bluesy. You've just got to do what you feel. I don't have any fears about what we can do next, because it's always exciting."
Primal Scream are:
BOBBY GILLESPIE - vocals
ANDREW INNES - guitars
MANI - bass
MARTIN DUFFY - keyboards
DARRIN MOONEY - drums