Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
on 23 March 2012
Hmmm...where to start. I've been a blah blah long time blah Weller fan etc. etc. I had high hopes - I liked lots of Wake up the Nation. I liked it's sometime unusual time signatures, I liked the dense, aggressive production. I liked the impenetrability of some of the lyrics. However, with Sonik Kicks, Weller seems to have taken the same template and taken most (not all) of the excitement away. Sonik Kicks is heavily reliant on loops and samples created by Simon Dine, but to be honest the effect is similar to those little (rather funkless) 'funky' jam bits on Wild Wood and here and there dotted about most of his solo stuff. You know that ones? They start and groove along for 45 seconds then fade out. Best contained to B sides (do they even exist anymore?). Tracks like the album's opener Green is a case in point. This isn't too dissimilar to the remix stuff that Brendan Lynch used to produce for Paul. It's all Moog synth bassline panned left and right, cut up guitar stabs and licks, sirens and alarms going off like Oxford Street on a Saturday in August. Weller's obligatory free-form vocal samples flit around in the mix - it's modern and atonal and ends with a lovely reverb laden Psychedelic coda which slips into one of the LP's true highlights, the lovely The Attic which is Come On Lets Go's slightly less surly cousin. With tanlines. Happy then.
Track 3 is awful - Kling I Won't thanks Paul and everything but it's alright I'll pass. I don't ever want to hear those Mariachi trumpets again - for as long as I live! Sleep of the serene sounds like a hangover from the 22 Dreams sessions - pastoral strings and the odd synth bleep - a merry go round/musical box/fairground ride bad acid trip - it's over before its started, and you won't be any the better for it. Skip. Segues into an acoustic with strings Nick Drake a like By the Waters........it's nothing we haven't heard him do a thousand times before, and whilst it has a charm only Paul can conjure from the fretboard on occasion, it's a little....well....shall we say, dull? It's very dull. Nice and that, but......Mogadon the nation. That Dangerous Age is a welcome relief from the earnestness of the previous track. It's certainly not the classic it's being touted as, but it's a real grower of a power-pop song (remember that?). Oh dear oh dear........Study in Blue is 3 minutes of utter mediocrity I can't believe would even have made it onto a Style Council bootleg straight from the mixing desk and yet, 3 minutes more and it elopes with Lee Perry for a jaunt along West London streets in the Summer with a can of Crucial Brew and a spliff. That's ok then. It's more electronic trickery courtesy of Mr Dine on that too.
Dragonfly is a little reminiscent of In Amsterdam from Wake Up the Nation. It's ok. Not as instant as similar material on Wake Up. When your gardens overgrown no doubt would start "Side 2" on the vinyl - I haven't checked, it just sounds like a vinyl record side starter! It's ok, more of the same loops/samples vibe. With what sounds ominously like an oompah horn. Some plinky plonky piano...it won't set your world on fire. Around the Lake for me is the LP's other stand out track - it really sounds like Sound Affects era Jam - in fact, it's much much more Jam like than many Jam songs! We've come full circle perhaps with Weller influencing himself for a change. Anyway, it's a great song in my humble and sounds great...er.....after dark. Twilight is 20 seconds of nothing. Drifters.......meh, it hurts me to say this, but his vocal on it is bloody unlistenable. Next! Paperchase is a real plodder...it could have been on that Weller album with all the plodding stuff on it ..it's a bit.....er.........well, you've heard it before - plod plod....He's the Keeper....... Oh, and it goes all weird and looping and sample-tastic at the end - for a change, you know, just in case you hadn't had enough of that? Be happy children is another of Weller's plaintive Soul odes to his children/all the children of the world - imagine Curtis Mayfield on half a Temazepam and a cup of cocoa. His missus joins him again on vocals, because.....er...she can. It ends with a really creepy sample of a child. I don't think I was supposed to think The Shining, but I did!
In summary this album is just OK but PW is at least 'doing something different' and not many of his peers can say the same. I just hoped for more really. The man has more ideas going on in one song than many bands have in entire albums and sometimes that's the best and the worst thing about the modern world of Weller. But don't listen to me: buy it, sing along with the ones you can and skip the ones you can't.