>Album Review: "Screamadelica" by Primal Scream

This week I was most definitely going to write a review of a couple Robyn albums simultaneously but right now I’m not doing it. This is because I don’t want my Robyn review to be terrible, which is what it would likely be if I tried to write it in state I am currently in. So what I’ll write instead is a review of this album I liked a lot in college and that I’m pretty certain I already wrote a review for a couple years ago for a blog that is not this one.

Let me relate, to you, a story. I look back on my first year of college with an irrational wellspring of fondness, but the truth is that at the time I was not in good shape. I was out of my element, see. I was surrounded by a large group of young people (my age, obviously) who drank and smoked and had sex and went places at night. I did none of these things in spades. I didn’t go out to a college party until a few months into my first semester, and even then I detached myself so thoroughly from the proceedings that I’m sure I just came across as a sheltered dweeb. The first college party I remember attending consisted of me ambling around outside of a log cabin in the middle of the woods while a party raged inside. I don’t remember exactly why I didn’t go in – I think I was too scared. Or nervous. Or waiting for a friend of mine to come outside and recognize me. Either way I ended up hanging around outside for a little over half an hour before I finally turned around and left. I walked through the woods and back to my dorm and fell asleep. Parties did not get much better for me over the next year.

I don’t know why I’m talking about any of this. But I know that I was listening to Scremadelica a whole bunch during this time. To put it bluntly, Scremadelica was the sound of the incredible party I imagined everybody else was having that I was never having, ever. Which might explain why it appealed to me so much then and why it still appeals to me now. It is the same reason dance music in general has been an obsession of mine since I was a kid – because it represents the fantastic, utopian never-ending night out I always wanted to have, the one that deep down I still kind of hope I’m going to have, every time I go out. With every stupid fiber of my heart. But of course it has never happened and never will happen.

So I guess in a way I – and everybody else , for that matter – should hate albums like Scremadelica for infecting us with this obnoxious impossible fantasy. Because the truth is that nobody is having as much fun as I think they are. Most people are bored most of the time and listen to records like Screamadelica for the exact same reasons I do – so they can feel like they are the kind of person who would take ecstacy and go to clubs on Saturday nights.

I’m painting Screamadelica as the ultimate escapist fantasy. Which it isn’t, and I apologize. I’m not sure why I’m writing all of this about Screamadelica and not about that last Kylie Minogue album, which is probably one of the most effective pieces of dance-floor fantasy ever released. This would also be a pretty excellent place to segue into a Robyn review, if this were a Robyn review. Her style is almost anti-escapist, you see. But this isn’t a Robyn review, so I’m not going to waste your time with that now.

Either way, it is hard for me to write critically about a record like Screamadelica because it evokes a time and place so strongly for me that I can’t imagine I would see it the same way you would. If I heard it for the first time today I would probably never listen to it again. I have almost no desire to seek out anything else Primal Scream has ever done for this very reason. The Beta Band’s Three E.P.s occupies a similar place in my mind, which is why hearing their next couple records for the first time recently did almost nothing for me. You’re expecting to replicate that memory, the same feeling you got listening to these records when you were 18, but it’s not going to happen. Too much to live up to.

Having said all of this, “Loaded” is most likely the greatest song ever recorded.

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