Watching the seminal Don Letts documentary The Punk Rock Movie, it's pretty immediately apparent that John Lydon and the rest of the original UK punk bands were as much influenced by Jamaican dub reggae as anything coming out of New York. Super-8 footage of The Sex Pistols and The Clash set to the deepest of cuts by Augustus Pablo or Dr. Almantado make up a pretty large section of the movie.
So when Lydon introduced his post-Pistols group Public Image Ltd, it wasn't really all that shocking to hear his take on Kingston's weirdest export, though it was pretty groundbreaking stuff, especially on the group's earlier releases. Now that P.I.L. has returned with their first album in 20 years, can they sound revolutionary now that your average red-stripe sipping frat boy has a penchant for Skrillex and his ilk? Absolutely.
The album opens with a call to action. Lydon screams "This is Pil! This is Public Image Limited!" before easing us into a fairly straightforward (in terms of the rest of the album) 80s synthpop track. "You are now entering a Pil zone," he shouts before losing his voice entirely. Indeed.
One Drop wouldn't be out of place on Second Edition, but it's by no means retro or dated. Deeper Water turns up the reverb considerably, letting Lydon's off-kilter vocals take center stage. It's as weird and as effective as anything on Flowers of Romance.
It's difficult from this point to catalog the rest of the album song-by-song. It's a cohesive record, meant to be played in its entirety. Repeat listens are rewarded with some of the most exciting sounds this reviewer has heard in years.