11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Hardly Stuck in a Rut...,
This review is from: Keep Calm and Carry On (Audio CD)
The Stereophonics have been subject to critical mauling over the past few years, and albums. 2001's 'Just Enough Education to Perform', their third release, gave the critics reason to raise eyebrows at the tiresome and overplayed 'Have A Nice Day', and the generally acoustic feel to the whole album dismayed many. The efforts of such to break into the US market having failed, the following album fared even worse - and had a completely incomplete feel to it. With the replacement of Stuart Cable by Javier Weyler on drums, 2005's 'Language.Sex.Violence.Other' heralded the Phonics first number one single: the cracklingly electric Dakota. Even with the slight improvement and more hard rock edge to that album, 2007's follow up - and sixth album - 'Pull the Pin' was, to say the least, sterile and disappointingly under par. Lyrically dull, musically laboured or awkward, and full of nothing-much-to-say forgettable filler (with only the occasional burst of potential), many - including myself - wrote Kelly Jones and crew off as having sold out and given up.
However, it was with interest that this new album arrived in my CD player today. And this album, believe me, is quite a departure. Maybe, finally, Kelly Jones is keeping calm and making music, rather than bowing to the pressure of record company suits to rush out a biennial release. It has a considered, textured feel to it rather than the rushed and vacant formula's found on their previous two efforts (with the exception of course, of Dakota, for which we must all bow to Jones' skill and brilliance).
This album contains a welcomed, warm and upbeat mix of rock, hints of electronica, and a collection of song ideas which - whilst at times seem frightened to fully expand into what they could be - are bristling with some 'good old' Stereophonics flare. It's an album that builds in quality - much like their second album 'Performance and Cocktails', with some of its most interesting and intriguing moments coming over half way through. Stand out songs are '100mph', the single 'Innocent', 'Trouble' and the last track 'Show Me How' is possibly Jones most honest piece of songwriting to date. Bassist Richard Jones' performance is also noticeably more melodic than previous work, which gives a deep undercurrent of ebb and flow to the work. This album almost feels like a culmination of what-could-have-been after 2001's JEEP. Sharp, swift moving, and rarely laboured - the sonic feel of this record is 'Nu-Phonics'. And a very nice change it makes too.
Sit Back and Listen In. The quartet have finally recaptured their sound.