Stereophonics
Word Gets Around


3.5
great

Review

by robin EMERITUS
January 6th, 2009 | 7 replies | 9,510 views


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Once topical britpop.

I wonder which has a closer national anthem – predominant American pop-punk, or self-explanatory Britpop. The latter is certainly wide of its own hymn, anyway: The Queen, while standing somehow as the British view of Britain, hardly represents the Britpop view of Britain. For a select, it seems the truest forms are the shy countryside, or the lame, somehow reminiscent pub songs. Stereophonics once knew this, and once had a role in a small time Welsh town (or so they’d like you to think). In Word Gets Around there’s a village community envisioned in the acoustic “Bill Davey’s Daughter”, and a pulsating bar sing-along for those same folk in the chord-heavy “Last of the Big Time Drinkers”.

The debut for the Welsh trio is pretty much never devoid of a vague little theme, and Kelly’s simple playwright-hobby abilities do unravel quite well for a standard rocker. The words are a happy accident for the band for just a debut: nothing in the career ever came close to the little car seat window storylines of “Traffic” – one of Stereophonic’s most emphatic anthems to date (and an acoustic number, in all!). Nothing ever aroused more of a rhetoric cliff-hanger than “Bill Davey’s Daughter”, but most importantly, the album’s biggest musical triumph – “Same Size Feet” – was word for word, never matched. The track, comprised essentially of one of Kelly’s plays and cramped into a four minute pop song (which either heavily insults or praises the lead man, or both), is as morbid a tale as the fan base will ever get. They found a body in the lake/maybe it wasn’t really his name/same colour same shoes, same size feet/It’s the not knowing that kills you is the trio’s novel line; not coated in arena glaze, and luckily not about chugging another beer back.

It does chug back chords though; for a tune about a wife - insane by ignorance and murdering her husband - it’s musically glorious. The verses are sly and steady, with enough time for Kelly to riddle off basic one-liners and lead into sharp, turnabout guitar choruses matched again by lines – She can’t be/She can’t be/She can’t be alone. After, of course, a bridge, the best moment of the album pours onto aftermath – upbeat, easy lyrics for/about drinkers. It’s probably easier to just assume that this is an easy route out for any Britpop band (Oasis wrote “Cigarettes & Alcohol” and Blur probably tried to write it in subtley, as they were that band), but Stereophonics, as with any band that went on to write more abstractly with the same, distinct sound, hit good middle ground. “Not Up To You” is that, a song unrepeated, clearly briefly formed and with a persona story (The shops been dead for years), but not at the heart of the beat.

Grit isn’t something Stereophonics would gladly shake off – vocals of concrete especially – but it’s more present on their debut than any of their ‘creepy’, characterless new entries. Kelly’s voice isn’t shaped up in any way, and though not everything is a perfect anthem on Word Gets Around, his dusty-trail voice carries a few at the same time as barely raising it above the norm. The structure, musically, isn’t a far shot from the band’s staple Language, Sex, Violence, Other – in that is it’s living and feeding on grit – but the writing really is a far cry from what “Dakota” is all about. It’s openly about, er, things. Things bands like Feeder, Welsh counterparts, unfortunately never got around to being nostalgic about in the first place. Things that future bands never bothered with, in a lucky turn. Stereophonics openly talk about these things though; they probably aren’t the only band to have heard of black humour, traffic and alcohol, but they wanted to make these their own, and maybe they did.



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user ratings (47)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
robin
Emeritus
January 6th 2009



4241 Comments


bored

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 6th 2009



7313 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice review. I've seen Stereophonics live twice, excellent both times, though I went for the support bands more than them. I've been thinking about reviewing their live album.

robin
Emeritus
January 6th 2009



4241 Comments


yeah, you should do it. i used to think that was a really great live record (the version of traffic on there betters the version on here), but it's kind of just played solidly and little else in the way of excitement

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 6th 2009



7313 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I saw them before I got that album, and was dissapointed by how it came across on record. I'll probably do the review soon, it'll be between 2.5 to 3.

spoon_of_grimbo
January 15th 2009



2240 Comments


i quite like kelly jones' voice, but of the songs of theirs i've heard, i prefer the older ones ("more life in a tramps vest" stands out as a memorable one). they went a bit too pop afterwards, i felt. great review as usual though man!

clotsie1994
February 19th 2010



1 Comments


i have to disagree. spoon_of_grimbo, i think every one of their albums has had a veri different sound. such as the grunge sound of language sex violence other? to the much softer sound of you gotta go there to go back. good review. especially the bit about traffic. but nothing on local boy ? haha

GulliKyro
October 25th 2010



357 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The best of the Phonic's albums. Too Many Sandwiches is a real hidden gem.



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