Although never as popular as Prodigy’s later release, Fat of the Land, Music for the Jilted Generation is a great album on its own merits. Jilted Generation tends to appeal more to the techno-oriented, although the album does contain a considerable amount of rock influence.
Brighter and more urban than its 1997 successor (Fat of the Land), Music for the Jilted Generation shows Prodigy in a transitory period – their sound has evolved a good deal from was on their 1990 debut album Experience (filled with dated-sounding rave songs now detested by bandleader Liam Howlett), but still retains much of the techno edge shaved back in the later album. Easily noticeable is the more repetetive nature of the music, the presence of odd/somewhat-out-of-place synthesizer effects, and the sparsity of vocals. These aspects combine to give the album a very electronic fell; noticably contrasting to Fat of the Land’s scratchier, earthier flavour.
However, Jilted Generation is also far more experimental, incorporating a great variety of sound textures and musical styles. Most of the time, these experiments pay off pretty well. The slow-moving “Poison” has an explosive sound, whereas “3 Kilos” (part of the “Narcotic Suite” that forms the album’s last three tracks) is extremely light and laid-back. “Claustrophobic Sting” (also part of the “Narcotic Suite”), by contrast, can be genuinely creepy at times.
As can be expected from what seems to be a fairly exploratory work, not all of the songs work out quite so well. “Full Throttle” is something of a cheesy hodgepodge of samples and synthesizer effects (reminiscent of video game music), and the vastly overrated “Their Law” (a protest against the British government’s crack-down on rave parties) is both monotonous and boringly simple. Howlett himself (who composes all of the band’s music) was ultimately only satisfied with six out of the album’s 13 tracks.
One definate plus of Jilted Generation is the fact that the disc clocks in at almost 80 minutes (Howlett actually ended up having to throw out two intended songs due to length constraints).
While Jilted Generation demands of its listeners a certain amount of techno-tolerance, it is ultimately a very worthwhile album. Those familiar with Prodigy through Fat of the Land may notice that the album isn’t quite as intense and focused as its successor. In the end, however, Music for the Jilted Generation makes up for this by taking its listener on a trip through a fascinating collage of sounds and ideas.