That What Is Not

Like only a handful of rock legends before him — Neil Young comes to mind — former Sex Pistol John Lydon has little interest in mining old territory. As leader and vocalist for the ever-shifting musical conglomerate Public Image, he’s found new turf to plunder. As has been the case on their last nine albums, That What Is Not showcases PIL’s brutal version of modern dance rock, an angry sound that pummels rather than lulls. There is nothing hypnotic about songs like ”Luck’s Up” or ”Good Things,” the latter featuring stirring soul backup vocals and a vicious Lydon rap about the corporate excesses of American capitalism. His audible smarts force would-be dance maniacs to move their brain cells instead of their limbs. ”Remember me like acid drops,” he sings on the album’s single, defining his role once and for all as pop music’s most effective spoiler. He ends ”Good Things” with a devastating sample: the familiar words ”No future” (from the Sex Pistols’ ”Anarchy in the U.K.”). Lydon is telling us that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I believe him. A

That What Is Not
  • Music