Review Summary: Weller, Weller, Weller...tell me more.
Life must be fairly peachy for one Mr. Paul Weller. A storied career in music with The Jam, The Style Council and his own solo efforts has seen him eternally deemed ‘Modfather’. His personal life appears to be more than steady too; comfortable, re-married and with children ranging from young to adult ages. This is where some people fall down. Familiarity does not only breed contempt. It can raise the ugly spectres of complacency, boredom and laziness. Weller’s career has always been built upon the foundations of a solid work ethic which has showed no signs of letting up. 2008’s 22 Dreams
was placed prominently on many of that year’s Best Of…lists, while 2010 saw him morphing into a more socially conscious figure with Wake Up The Nation
. Both albums were also a testament to the friends and characters he has in his orbit. Noel Gallagher, Gem Archers (Oasis/Beady Eye) and former Jam bassist Bruce Foxton, amongst many others, all put in the work to help Weller achieve his aims.
rather helpfully lives up to its name. By his own admission, Weller has been listening to more wide-ranging influences as the record took shape. Krautrock, in particular, was one style and genre that he had been paying keen attention to. The effect is immediate; opening track “Green” is replete with all manner of sounds, a repetitive yet sprightly beat and fragments of language that flutter between the left and right speakers at will. “Kling I Klang”, found a little later on the album, is a textbook Kraftwerk reference by virtue of its title alone. The song itself is a frantic little number, its perpetual motion giving some idea of the state of mind of its creator. There is plenty more experimentation to be found throughout the record. “Sleep Of The Serene” is something of a stoner’s dream, its ambient mix of digital effects and traditional orchestral mores calls to mind a distorted lullaby. “Study In Blue”, placed proudly dead centre of the album, combines dub, reggae and a sultry female vocal take that seems dead set on easing you into that time when a good portion of the world looks forward to the summer months. Towards the end, “Around The Lake” grabs you with an eager bass line before culminating in a psychedelic meltdown.
Weller traditionalists (Vespa owners, dodgy haircuts, multiple copies of Quadrophenia on different formats) need not fear. His experimentation is neither senility nor a midlife crisis. Any fears that he has lost his common touch are assuaged by two tracks in particular. “By The Waters” is an introspective, haunting tune that floats upon acoustic guitar and orchestral backing. “That Dangerous Age” combines a number of past styles; groovy soul, simple yet memorable guitar riffs and a big sound that envelopes all.
Maybe he’s not regarded as the most fresh and reputable artist anymore, but he really knows how to give and get his kicks.