Stereophonics: predictable and out of place

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANOT SINCE 2005’s Language. Sex. Violence. Other? have Stereophonics been able to recreate the rough, smoky rock sound they’re best known for.

The once admired and praised Brit pop group have slowly been dipping in recent years, due to their unrecognisable image outside of the UK, and the inability to push their music and albums to their potential. Four years after the release of the tediously mediocre Keep Calm And Carry On, the Welsh quartet return to the studio for their eighth album.

‘Graffiti On The Train’ sees the band emerge from their past bland ideas of popular British rock, and instead focuses on strong orchestrated ballads. For the most part, it does successfully work. Tracks, such as, ‘Graffiti On The Train’, ‘Violins And Tambourines’, ‘We Share The Same Sun’, and ‘Indian Summer’, offer a great sense of maturity that the band clearly needed.

Kelly Jones’ jagged voice rises well with the strong leading instruments, which give most of the songs emotions, a good build up, and that sing-out-loud factor. Each of these song deliver a dramatic feel to the accustomed guitars, which is accompanied  by Jones’ lyrics, inspired by topics such as Amy Winehouse’s death, childhood, and (no surprises) graffiti on a train. However, the lyrics are the sort of thing you will hear on a cheesy 60s jukebox: neither entertaining or imaginative. The lyrics seem to fit better on the old songs where the music, and the unforgettable riffs, was the main focus point.

The ballads are uplifting, and the effort put into this album does show in that respect, but the rest of the album seems careless. It feels as if they ran out of ideas and replaced the gaps with B-sides which completely mislead the tone of the album. The ballads are audible enough, but when the next song is a spiritless blues number, transparently inspired by The Beatles’ album Let It Be, it’s too exhausting to carry on listening.

Songs like ‘In A Moment’ do pay homage to past Stereophonics albums and previously successful songs, but it just sounds like other Stereophonics songs. There is no creativity or effort to adjust what already sounded like ‘Dakota’; with just a slight change in the guitar chords and different lyrics.

Graffiti… has the capacity to be Stereophonics’ game changing album, the same way The Seldom Seen Kid was for Elbow. However, the album seems to portray predictable build-up ballads and out of place songs, which adds nothing to the album or the band’s reputation as a once respected and British treasure in the music industry.