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Stereophonics - Keep Calm And Carry On

Stereophonics, Keep Calm and Carry On

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

KEEP Calm & Carry On, the seventh studio album from Stereophonics, is a solid if unspectacular effort that does exactly what it says in the title… keeps calm and carries on the formula.

There’s very little risk-taking save for the odd electronic flourish, which the band have done before with efforts such as Dakota. And the rock is radio-friendly rather than riotous.

That’s not to say it’s a disappointment, or even a terrible listen. With Stereophonics, you know what you’re going to get and if you’ve liked that previously, you’re sure to respond in kind again.

Written by Kelly Jones and co-produced with Jim Abiss (of Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian fame), it’s agreeably straight-forward and prone to throwing up some pretty decent highlights.

Lead single Innocent is a breezy crowd-pleaser that arrives on a harmonious “woo hoo” rush, album opener She’s Alright is sharp and catchy, complete with finger-clicking beats and a buzzy chorus, and the synth-laced Beerbottle delivers some thought-provoking lyrics about a flooded home, while eschewing the album’s ethos of keeping calm and carrying on. It’s the sound of the album at its most ambitious and personal with references to Jones’ father.

Later on, Stereophonics serve a nice reminder of their ability to write decent power ballads with Could You Be The One?, which plays to the strengths of Jones’ husky vocal delivery and drops some nice guitar riffs, while 100mph subverts the expectation in its title by coming over all mean, moody and magnificent.

There are bog standard moments, though, which frustrate given Stereophonics’ ability to take risks and succeed at other moments. Songs like Trouble feel like album fillers and the sort of material they can deliver with their eyes closed.

Much better, in upbeat terms, are the likes of Live ‘n Love, which displays an Oasis/Kasabian style swagger and bravado (evidence of the Abiss effect?), or the glam-rock of I Got Your Number which recalls Gary Glitter and Muse.

Alas, the album peters out rather than ending with the expected flourish as well. Stuck In A Rut opens itself up to easy accusations about the diversity of their songwriting by virtue of its name, while Show Me How is an epic, piano soaked power ballad that rather strains the point of this kind of song. It’s a disappointing finale to an otherwise OK album.

Download picks: Live n Live, 100mph, I Got Your Number, Innocent, Beerbottle

Track listing:

  1. She’s Alright
  2. Innocent
  3. Beerbottle
  4. Trouble
  5. Could You Be the One?
  6. I Got Your Number
  7. Uppercut
  8. Live ‘n’ Love
  9. 100MPH
  10. Wonder
  11. Stuck in a Rut
  12. Show Me How