How the Stereophonics have done so well at being so average must baffle music lovers and musicians alike. They have perfected the art of mediocrity and yet, six albums later, they are still here, with Pull The Pin the latest box fresh offering.
Opening with a news reader's war report, you may think Kelly Jones and Co. are trying something new, but then their attempt as social commentators falls flat on its face. Picking on war, with "Soldiers Make Good Targets", the lyrics and delivery are as about as subtle as Ian Brown's "Illegal Attacks". And that's not to mention the distasteful artwork of two sets of pyschedelic glossed-up lips pulling a grenade pin. Mmm... war is sexy isn't it? The Jam's angst-ridden anti-nuclear anthem, "Going Underground", it most definitely is not. Which is a shame because under the lyrics there's some bloody great raunchy rock 'n' roll guitar. The war theme continues on "It Means Nothing", where: 'Gods love you all the same, /They Just Go By Different Names'. The Welsh rockers then turn to street violence (Kelly's annotated notes at the bottom of "Daisy Lane" explain that a young boy had died when some thieves attacked him for his mobile phone). But again, Dylanesque poeticism this ain't as Kelly unleashes his two-dimensional symbolism: 'Now there's red spray paint slashed on the wall/ R.I.P. Baby, we love you from all'. It's not even got the urgency and wrenching loss of "Local Boy In The Photograph".
Most of the rest of the album is sandwiched with introspective love songs, which basically say the same thing, about soul searching for a lost love (on "I Could Lose Ya" or in "Stone"); getting rid of a cheating lover ("Pass The Buck"); or your luck running out ("Ladyluck").
There's nothing more boring than lyrics like this screamed out by Kelly's wrenching Ford Cortina vocals. Someone give the guy some Strepsils, please.
All the thrashing build 'em up knock 'em down guitar/chorus tactics are employed with an acoustic track, "Bright Red Star", chucked in to cover all bases. yet, it's almost worse when the 'Phonics try and have fun on the grim accounting, speed and booze monkey track, "Bank Holiday Monday", or "I Could Lose Ya", where Kelly is treated to a quicky in the cinema.
This record just feels like the band are on a treadmill: There's no real depth, imagination or anything to connect with. Saying that - Stereophonics' fans will lap this up, it's more of the same! no surprises here. --Sonja D'Cruze
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