'Wild Wood' represents a big leap forward after the fake soul of The Style Council. The album has soul, but it's a natural inflection rather than a forced imitation of black music. For me, 'All The Pictures On The Wall' demonstrates this the best with its bold acoustic rhythms. Throughout the album, Weller's band display a hearty appetite for the music they're playing. They're as solid as any seasoned rock band, but their style is rooted more in the 1960s. This album and 'Stanley Road' complement each other and there are parallels. 'Sunflower' and 'The Changingman' open both albums in a similar fashion, for example, with simple, repetitive guitar figures. 'Stanley Road' has better songs, however, while 'Wild Wood' is more satisfying in terms of style. The device of including four brief interludes is effective, breaking up the songs to keep them fresh while giving the album a distinct aura.
Perhaps it's the content that falls marginally short of greatness. Weller's songwriting isn't as hard-hitting as in the days of The Jam, though some anger is still there. The title track, though, an alternative metaphor to 'concrete jungle' offers positive wisdom, something the angry young Weller didn't do much. 'Shadow Of The Sun' doesn't warrant seven minutes, however, and the extended instrumental passage only proves that he's better with three-minute songs. It's a minor criticism, though. 'Wild Wood' is largely a satisfying album.