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Stereophonics - Pull The Pin

Stereophonics, Pull The Pin

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THE sixth studio album from Stereophonics will probably confound the critical reaction by becoming another massive hit for them. But it’s not as good as their previous effort, Language. Sex. Violence. Other.

Written and co-produced by Kelly Jones with Jim Lowe (Foo Fighters, Manic Street Preachers), it combines the band’s rockiest and most melodic aspects across 12 tracks that reflect everything from the impact of the July 7 terrorist attacks on London to hedonistic bank holiday excess.

It’s much more straightforward than the progressive fifth album (which spawned the band’s first number one in Dakota) and contains some thrilling moments. But there’s also a disappointing sense that by going back to basics, they’ve also hit cruise control a little too flippantly.

That said, first track Soldiers Make Good Targets hits the mark both in terms of the menacing guitar riffs and the provocative lyrics, while Pass The Buck drops Beach Boy-style vocal harmonising with some guitar riffs that are more Oasis styled.

Lead single It Means Nothing then offers some pause for reflection and thought that’s combined with an aching romanticism that could be applied and embraced by anyone in love. Written in response to the London bombings, it’s certain to provoke criticisms from those who accuse Kelly Jones of trivialising, but it’s a thought-provoking piece of songwriting that’s backed with a genuinely affecting central guitar riff. I’ve long thought the Stereophonics are at their very best when keeping things brooding and this is evidence of why.

Sadly, it’s followed by Bank Holiday Monday, a cheeky rock ‘n’ roller that chronicles boozing and fighting and which probably comes too soon after It Means Nothing. It’s instantly forgettable and fairly weak.

Daisy Lane is another example of the softer, low-key approach that works so well for them, with Jones’ haunted vocals drifting over some lovely, Feeder-esque guitar work, and Stone slow builds nicely thanks to another strong central riff.

But tracks like My Friends and I Could Lose Ya just drift along in hard-rocking fashion without really doing anything to inspire or impress. Bright Red Star offers another stark reminder of their diversity, setting Jones’ husky vocals over a stripped down acoustic guitar, and Drowning brings things to a suitably slow-burning finale.

But while Language. Sex. Violence. Other really caught you off guard by changing your easy perceptions of what the Stereophonics offered, Pull The Pin feels like a backward step that’s content to play things much safer. It’s a good album but it seldom comes close to being great.

Download picks: It Means Nothing, Pass The Buck, Daisy Lane, Stone, Bright Red Star, Soldiers Make Good Targets

Track listing:

  1. Soldiers Make Good Targets
  2. Pass The Buck
  3. It Means Nothing
  4. Bank Holiday Monday
  5. Daisy Lane
  6. Stone
  7. My Friends
  8. I Could Lose Ya
  9. Bright Red Star
  10. Ladyluck
  11. Crush
  12. Drowning