LOS ANGELES, CA (August 11, 2023) It was 45 years ago that John Lydon rearranged pop music – for the second time – with the introduction of innovative experimentalists Public Image Ltd. Almost a half-century on, PiL are an avowed musical institution (and, since Lydon wrested control from record labels roughly a dozen years back, they are truly independent, releasing records on their own PiL Official Ltd label. Today, Public Image Ltd. have released their vital eleventh studio album End of World worldwide by PiL Official Ltd via Cargo Records/Redeye USA, HERE.
End of World is available everywhere on vinyl, CD and digital, a 2x LP is available on white vinyl at independent record stores with a special neon green edition exclusive to PiL Official / Cargo Records.
On Tuesday, August 15, a limited edition digital pressing of End of World will be released that unlocks access to exclusive videos, previously unheard versions of songs, scanned lyric sheets, illustrations, audio interviews, and more. For more information on the End of World digital pressing, visit: https://artists.serenade.co/publicimageltd.
On End of World, Lydon, refuses to fall back on any tried-and-true formula or convention – even his own. Take “Hawaii,” the album’s hypnotic first single; over a bed of pulsing toms, languid saz and plucked upright bass – courtesy of long time PiL compatriots Bruce Smith (drums), Lu Edmonds (guitar) and Scott Firth (bass) – he delivers his most vulnerable and moving vocal to date, a love letter to his late wife of nearly five decades, Nora, in which he reflects lovingly on a shared moment in time – the two of them “drinking mushroom tea and watching them dangerous waves all day long,” as he recalls – in a house on Oahu’s north shore. It’s an intimate and stripped-bare performance, but also one, Lydon says, that speaks to the universal “we.” “I would say it’s got precious little to do with me and a lot to do with the problems many people face. But the only way you can deal with it is by being honest with yourself.” If you have yet to be acquainted with the sympathetic reverberations of “Hawaii,” you’re in for a treat. But be forewarned: If you expect End of World to present, as some have surmised from that one song, a “kinder, gentler John,” we can only say, well, you’re in for a surprise.
To be sure, Lydon finds plenty to spit and scratch about on End of World, taking aim atLiars, Fakes, Cheats, and Frauds (“you’re fucking irritating!”) in the taut funk of “LFCF.” Blasting hyper-educated, low-on-common-sense university automatons atop the electro-grooves of “Being Stupid Again” (“How much money for that educayshun?”). Lamenting no less than the entirety of the human race (“martyrs and morons to the slaughter”) on the slinky “Walls.” Throughout, he shouts and snarls, barks and bellows, roars and rebukes, pokes, and prods, questions and commands with a dynamism and distinctiveness that remains unmatched in modern music.
And still, let it be said that for all Lydon’s extravagant vocalisms, and his band mates’ glorious waves of strident, primordial noise (turn up – loud – the roiling “The End of the World,” the menacing death-march, “Penge,” and the rollicking “North West Passage,”splattered with what Lydon describes as “screaming, tear-your-ears-out” guitar), it’s not all existential dire straits here. There are lighter moments to be had both musically and lyrically – even if the album is called End of World. The T. Rex-tastic glam thump of “The Do That,” for one, where Lydon unleashes a dizzying stream of syllables (“there’s a hundred thousand words,” he jokes) in a blur of trad-pop giddiness. Or the deranged “Dirty Murky Delight,” which the singer calls a comedy song. Or “Car Chase,” a deep-groove electro-disco rave-up about a mental patient who “cleverly breaks out of the mental asylum at night, unbeknownst to his owners,” Lydon explains, adding slyly, “We all have secrets… even the looniest of us.”