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Public Image Limited - End Of World

Public Image Limited
End Of World
Double Vinyl Album
Compact Disc / Digital Download

Eight years on from PiL’s last album and the world at large has changed dramatically. In addition, the album has arrived at a pivotal time in PiL’s history, having been conceived and recorded during a tumultuous period in John’s own personal life. 

End Of World begins with the sinister and striking Penge. It sets the atmospheric tone befitting the album’s title; “you’ll see me there…the depth of misery, welcome to Penge”. Welcome to PiL 2023, edgey, unnerving and challenging. This feeling is explored further in The End Of The World, “no surrender, no cowards here”. It’s a punchy, quirky track that conjures up the musical landscapes of 80s PiL while adding a contemporary urgency. 

Car Chase has an undercurrent of energy running throughout, reflecting the subject at large. "I don’t get bored I get ignored" John quips. It’s powerful with its air of industrial menace. Being Stupid Again is a real gem. Shimmering and hypnotic in execution, John challenges the cycle of sloganeering which grips each generation in turn. His barbed side swipes at some of the absurdities of woke and student culture are both sharp and tongue-in-cheek, “You’re being students again… how much money for that education?” 

Walls, with its laid back melody, sees John in Music Hall mode as he asks whether walls protect or impound. It illustrates the confidence John has in his lyrics, there’s no hiding or fudging, his delivery is clear, he wants the listener to take note. Likewise Pretty Awful puts John’s vocals centre stage, although this particular tale is told with a heavy dose of humour. The girl in question clearly has few redeeming features, but even so he declares “I like you” before adding with a metaphorical wink, “we’ve all done worse”. 

Strange sees PiL back in a hypnotic groove mirroring the message as we’re urged to look between the lines for the evil. Mellow but menacing, it’s a sound conjured up to match the feeling of John’s words. The band’s ability to reflect the lyrics in the music has been perfected over the years. It’s an artistry that enables PiL to vary styles while retaining a uniform sound. It’s further evident on the following track Down On The Clown which gathers sonically like the weather; “the rain keeps coming down… clouds of shame. He’s on his own again”. The first half is spookily overcast, by the time of the finale the heavens have opened and we are in Rise territory. It’s an outstanding, glorious mini-epic. 

Dirty Murky Delight is a funky, laid back humorous affair; “one lick and you know it ain’t right”. Try not to smile when John gets going; “donkey carrot and stick, knows how slow you tick”. It’s a brief respite from the darker more serious and personal side prevalent on the album. The perky The Do That bounds along with a 70s glam rock vibe, although its message is light years from bubblegum. Not doing what you’re told is what it’s all about. Musically and lyrically pacey, it packs a lot into 2 1/2 minutes. It’s very, very good. 

LFCF (liars, fakes, cheats and frauds) is underpinned by a Metal Box-esque flavour. “You couldn’t write what I write” John tells all his detractors. He’s a wordsmith and he lets his words lead the attack, sending the enemy skulking off. It’s both general and specific with a no show for a meeting in Romford getting short shrift. The band add captivating texture to the track giving it an extra edge. 

“Could it be the end of my life?” ponders John during North West Passage as he seeks escape. It finds John howling at the moon and taking a leap into the unknown, away from the trappings of the modern day towards a simpler life. After the tragedy of his recent loss, such contemplation is unsurprising. Sonically it’s dark and noisy - once again the band enhance the song’s emotion. If you look deeply it’s also a song of hope. 

The much loved Hawaii brings the LP to a close. Its melancholy tones can be detected throughout the album, so it's fitting the reflective nature of John’s touching love song should conclude this body of work. The preceding tracks should all be listened to with this in mind. All roads lead to Hawaii. 

Despite the variation in styles within the album, PiL have delivered a uniform distinctive sound throughout. It is not a random collection of bits and pieces, but a project in itself, a throwback to the days when albums were made to be listened to from start to finish. The thoughtful sequencing takes you on a trip to the different lands that inhabit planet PiL. John’s lyrics/poetry are as sharp as ever and the flexibility of PiL’s musical format allows John to share his wisdom. 

John once said he was a noise organiser. The stalwarts he recruited into the PiL ranks all those years ago know how to assemble the required levels of commotion, ranging from calm to cacophony. It’s all in evidence on PiL’s latest triumph. “They let me out at the weekends”, John divulges. Now we know what he does the rest of the week, conjuring up wonders like End Of World. Fabulous from start to finish.

Review by Phil Singleton

Public Image Limited - End Of World

God Save The Sex Pistols ©2023 Phil Singleton /
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God Save the Sex Pistols

God Save The Sex Pistols ©Phil Singleton /