Keep Calm and Carry On CD
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Few bands make it to their seventh album, let alone many of Stereophonics contemporaries. From the critically acclaimed debut, Word Gets Around through to the hugely successful greatest hits collection, Decade in the Sun, Kelly Jones and his band have consistently turned out quality indie rock. Keep Calm and Carry On is indeed the Stereophonics seventh studio album and seemingly no different if the single "Innocent" is anything to go by.
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When Stereophonics emerged with their 1997 debut, Word Gets Around, it sounded like narrative songwriting had found a fantastic new voice. Kelly Jones' tales of small-town Wales, like Local Boy in the Photograph, were so concise and evocative – yet still rocking – that the band were immediately hooned into the leagues of festival headlining and huge homecomings.
Since then, however, Stereophonics have become a pub-rock shadow of themselves; an act that still commands a loyal fanbase – as a recent show at Cardiff Castle proved – but one that's never going to win a Mercury Prize. Not that, you'd imagine, they'd particularly want to. Musically they seem to have made little progress beyond flirtations with synthesizers, as in 2005's number one single Dakota.
Which brings us to Keep Calm and Carry On. Named after World War Two posters that seeped back into the public consciousness at the peak of the recession, it's a title seemingly designed to provoke critics into making obvious remarks about them calmly plodding along and getting on with the business of selling out arenas.
Jones, who once wrote beautifully of local suicides and disgraced football coaches, has filled this album with words there purely so that the songs aren’t instrumentals. Stories are present – opener She's Alright tells the tale of a boozy date that Jones has to chaperone through a messy night – but they're told in such trite banalities that it makes it hard to care.
It's a real shame, because there's definitely some heart here. Take Beerbottle, which sings of a flooded home and evokes the Keep Calm manifesto through the narrator's dad; as a metaphor for family unrest and stoicism it works well. But two songs later, on the weepy Could You Be the One, a potential suitor is told: "Every single thing that you do is cool." Surely they can do better.
Musically it's as solid as you'd expect – but solid won't turn kids onto the wonders of rock’n’roll. Jones's divisive gravelly voice is still in full swing, too. Sometimes it's a few stones too much, so when he reels it in on closing ballad Show Me Now the difference is palpably pleasing.
Still, for those who have flocked to see them for years, this will be enough to sustain their biennial fix of Cwmaman rock. But Keep Calm… is unlikely to win Stereophonics any new fans. No doubt they'll carry on up the charts regardless. --Will Dean
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Top Customer Reviews
Oh and the DVD is quite good actually.
By the time 2009's "Keep Calm And Carry On" swung around, nobody expected anything much and felt the band had smashed their finest material through their 2005 LP and left themselves winding down from then on... this was not the case.
Any rock fan will advise to ignore Stereophonics media reviews, as since 2001's stinging attack "Mr. Writer" the band have been panned by just about every critic and his dog. "Keep Calm And Carry On" is a shock return to the kind of form which we thought was gone. Kelly Jones has found the type of songwriting skills once more which made him such as standout performer in the first place.
From the opened "She's Alright" you can tell Jones sounds confident the way he did in 2005, and when Kelly Jones is in confident mood you're in for a good LP. The opener sets the tone for a very solid record, easily one of their best to date. We also get the typically catchy "Innocent" and the album highlight "Beerbottle", a story of flood victims which sees Jones' voice hitting heights never previously even attempted.Read more ›
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).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As with all Sterephonics Albums, this one is not a disappointment. Love it.Published 5 months ago by A. Burt
Good price, arrived in good time, packaged well, quality of sound is good .Published 7 months ago by SMC