STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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Before releasing their 10th studio album since 1978, “What the World Needs Now,” Public Image Limited — PiL for short — put out “This is PiL” in 2012, which had broken a 17-year musical silence.
It turns out Johnny Lydon and company still have much to say.
The real ear-opener on “What the World Needs Now” is “C’est La Vie,” which features a healthy sample of Lydon’s actual singing voice — not the snarling Johnny Rotten persona of The Sex Pistols, nor the cartoonishly over-the-top vocal delivery that’s all over PiL’s catalog.
That track comes after Lydon drops a Johnny Rotten-style F-bomb a mere six seconds into the leadoff track, “Double Trouble,” an amusing meditation on married life to a pounding drum machine beat. “I’m aggravated, but not castrated,” he sings.
It also follows the new single, “Bettie Page,” an ode to the iconic American pin-up girl, and one of Lydon’s heroes. His singing is memorable on this one because he weirdly shifts from a whisper-snarl to a convincing imitation of Jello Biafra.
“I’m Not Satisfied” is like a shout-along bookend companion to the PiL signature song “Disappointed.” “And then the drugs/to ease the pain. But the drugs didn’t work, and I’m back again,” Lydon howls.
Kudos go to long-time PiL guitarist Lu Edmonds for his work on “Spice of Choice.” The entire band shines on “Big Blue Sky” — a hybrid of soaring anthem rock and the kind of dub reggae that The Clash used to dabble in — and on the dance funk of “Whole Life Time.”
The excessively vulgar “Shoom” and the blistering “Corporate,” which features Lydon sing-rapping, both invoke the unsettling, dark, aggressive, industrial soundscapes of Nine Inch Nails.
It’ll be a hoot to see how, and how many of these new tunes are presented in concert Nov. 11 at The Trocadero Theatre, 1003 Arch St., Philadelphia. Show time is 7:30 p.m. and tickets range from $29.50-$32. See www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/939919?utm_medium=bks or call (215) 922-6888.