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Jam! Showbiz

Fat of the Land

The Prodigy's new album a breakthrough into electronica

As even the most ardent believers in the "electronic music is the next big thing" debate would be forced to admit, the one gaping hole in their argument has always been the absence of a defining album around which this nascent movement can galvanize.

That hole is about to be filled.

Far moreso than the Chemical Brothers' vaguely disappointing "Dig Your Own Hole" - the last album to shoulder the burden of single-handedly dragging a hitherto underground genre into the bright light of the mainstream - The Prodigy's "The Fat Of The Land" has the intangible feel of a breakthrough album.

Below is an exclusive track-by-track look at "The Fat Of The Land":

1. Smack My Bitch Up
Propelled by a sample from Ultramagnetic M.C.'s "Give The Drummer Some," this throbbing, lyrically offensive track ultimately confounds easy characterization by dissolving into a set of soaring, wordless vocals by Shahin Bada. A provocative opening gambit.

2. Breathe
The new North American single, this will already be familiar to both European fans (it's a former No. 1 song there) and Canadian diehards, who long ago snapped up the import EP. Arguably the most rock-ish track here.

3. Diesel Power
Another potential single, this seamless techno/hip-hop hybrid boasts a blistering rap by Kool Keith.

4. Funky Shit
Opening with the "Oh my God, that's some funky shit" chorus from the Beastie Boys' "Root Down," this also works in an ingenious sample from the theme song of the old gung-ho TV series "S.W.A.T. " Also benefits from a particularly insistent, pulsating synth line and an insidious "hey, hey, hey" refrain. The most instantly catchy cut here.

5. Serial Thrilla
Though a planned collaboration with Brit band Skunk Anansie didn't make the cut for the final lineup of The Fat Of The Land, S.A.'s outrageous singer, Skin, and her longtime co-lyricist, Len Arran, do get writing credits on this tune for the sample of the group's "Selling Jesus". Keith Flint's lead vocal ("Serial thrilla/serious killer") is highly reminiscent of his performance on "Firestarter".

6. Mindfields
Once intended as the follow-up single to "Firestarter," leaked copies of this genuinely spooky number have been floating around for months. Immediately recognizable by its one-finger synth intro and the repeated "This is dangerous" refrain.

7. Narayan
One of the album's undeniable stand-outs, this extravagant, nine-minute-plus suite is co-written and sung by Kula Shaker's Crispian Mills, though you may be hard-pressed to recognize hi heavily treated vocals. With Mills delivering suitably enigmatic phrases such as "Your time has come" and "I feel another energy", this moves seamlessly into an extended chant before veering off into a long, instrumental coda and slamming, without pause, into ...

8. Firestarter
The band's official calling card (at least on this continent), this is a slightly different mix than the single. Otherwise, still guaranteed to fill any dancefloor.

9. Climbatize
This is the final track that band mastermind Liam Howlett completed just days before the master tapes were turned over to the label. A swirling, highly percussive instrumental cut with a distinct Eastern flavor.

10. Fuel My Fire
The unexpected album-closer is a raucous cover of the L7 fist-waver, which slaps together a cheesy, roller-rink keyboard riff, a pounding rhythm track, and highly processed guest vocals by Saffron, on loan from Republica (remember last year's addictive almost-hit, "Ready To Go"?). A bizarre and defiant end to an album that delivers exactly what it promises.

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