Review Summary: Stereophonics show signs of losing relevance with this all too similar effort.
Stereophonics’s unhurried transition from British pub-rock to their hoped for creation of a ‘classic’ rock album was steadily consolidated with 2005’s Language, Sex, Violence, Other?
– an album which offered none of the country village lyrical work of their debut, and setting an increasingly impersonal tone in doing so. Arguably, however, the Welsh trio had already created their best with their earliest effort; a feat which has been evidently difficult to match by the sadly underachieving band.
Continuing where the band left off, Pull The Pin
could be ever so easily identified as a second part to its predecessor. There is much of the same ranging from poetic work through to musical balance. In fact, some aspects of the album seem like a rehash of finer, older moments. Thinking of it this way, whilst “Doorman” was an explosive sleazy moment of ‘part 1’, follow-up record’s “I Could Lose Ya” is simply not as subtle (with sections such as She could go down on me in a theatre/I'd stroke her head, look round over my shoulder/We'd get kicked out we'd walk along the pier/I'd try to get my hand under her jumper
) nor as exciting. “It Means Nothing” also sounds too close to “Rewind” from the prior album, albeit without the substance originally provided – the song essentially a lacklustre single that fails to build upon anything, devoid of creation.
Though moments of the album that break away from these dominating comparisons show some signs of the development Stereophonics persist in indicating. “My Friends” is a faced-paced highlight, which while not being the most innovative inventions, remains a moody track which conveys where the album thrives; simple yet effective guitar structures and gritty vocal work from Kelly Jones – combinations which the band consistently blend. However, this is another example of the ‘darker’, more ‘impersonal’ styles the band has recently been incorporating – Let me introduce you to my friends/Let me buy you things, let me in your head
setting a less descriptive atmosphere; simplicity, yet with a more ‘mature’ sound.
Whilst other moments suggest further impending doom, such as the climactic “Drowning”, an equally mastered track with further aggression, the fun, exuberant side of Stereophonics is not far away on the album – “Pass The Buck” is a lighter and still straightforward track with an almost screamed chorus. Unfortunately, the clear-cut, aggressive moment of the majority of tracks causes for all too equivalent instances – “Crush”, despite its marching promise, not resounding enough to sway away from “Pass The Buck”, or even the former “Lady Luck”, which, aside from being less upbeat emotionally, is very nearly the same device.
Although even when the band wanders from the booming pattern of the rest of the album, minimalism reigns nevertheless – “Bright Red Star” is founded from the easiest of acoustic guitar riffs and barely more. Whilst this pause in the album does not disrupt the final product (it is more a welcome change than anything), it is hard to listen to a track so extremely stripped down overly, due to a rather constricted beauty. “Daisy Lane” is more complex in that the addition of more instrumental work is seen, however the common ground is once again the failure to make this track emphatic and yet addictive.
Pull The Pin
is not the album many will have hoped for with the release of Language, Sex, Violence, Other?
due to the failure to show us an entirely new album; it’s hard not to feel like the band have reworked old songs, basically coming across as unsuccessful in continuing their advancement release after release. While there are brief moments of freshness, Stereophonics find themselves trapped where they originally were, instead of furthering, and indeed broadening their horizons.