Although enjoyable in parts for its single-minded - some would say simple-minded - devotion to rock'n'roll classicism, Riot City Blues does mark a backward step for Primal Scream after the "electronic garage-band future rock'n'roll" of Evil Heat. Having copped out by cravenly re-naming that album's track "Bomb the Pentagon", the loss of nerve appears to have spread to the music too, which reverts to their tried and tested retro-raunch take on the classic Stones formula. It's as if everything they've done since "Rocks" in 1994 has been deemed a mistake, a wrong turning on the road to rock clarity. And it must be acknowledged how well that comfy old style fits them on tracks like the single "Country Girl", and the harp-croaking R&B groove "We're Gonna Boogie", a reductive rock mantra in the Exile manner of "The Hip Shake". Guesting Bunnymen guitarist Will Sergeant provides most of the psychedelic heat on "When the Bomb Drops", and while the folksy mandolin, fiddle and hony-tonk piano of "Hell's Comin' Down" offers a welcome change of pace and style, the giveaway Flamin' Groovies reference in "Nitty Gritty" offers the clearest indication of the band's current direction.
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