Review: Stereophonics - Kind
PUBLISHED: 16:03 25 October 2019
Kelly and Co keep it under 50 for their middle-of-the-road cruise down the Americana highway.
Kelly Jones, frontman of the Welsh rock behemoth that is Stereophonics, admitted he had nothing left in the songwriting tank and almost quit the band at the end of their last tour, just over a year ago.
After some time alone though, the songs for Kind started to flow, all neat and complete and ready to lay down for this eleventh studio album, plotting a course for the band's third decade.
Jones is still in rasping rock form on mid-paced rocker Just Wanted The Goods, which opens the record, and recent single Fly Like An Eagle will see stadia basked in the glow of a thousand lighters, its classic reassuring refrain that "hey hey, my my, everything's gonna be just fine" the most memorable couplet here.
But most of the record is actually bedded in gospel-informed Americana rather than stadium rock - albeit with mixed results. Make Friends With The Morning is a walking-pace gospel number, shot through with new-leaf determination to leave behind the troubles of yore once and for all, complete with backing choir, organ and tambourines.
The unassuming lapsteel guitar flourishes are the best thing about Stitches, in which the pleas of Jones' protagonist for reconciliation are fully naked, losing the poetry of his better lyricism. It's not helped by the loping pace and stale Americana tropes.
That musical inertia really gathers in the record's flabby mid-section. Hungover For You is built around a hackneyed descending riff and lazy lyricism which saps the soul from Kelly's sandpaper vocal, while the supposedly feisty Bust This Town feels about as fresh and energetic as an ailing pot plant.
The best of the rest is the simple finger-picked motif, harmonica and gentle gospel-invoked backing vocals of the reflective and rueful Restless Mind, and Street Of Orange Light, written in the first person - a raw and touching reflection on life, recalling splashes of childhood memories of skateboards and first kisses as the protagonist casts aside unfulfilled adult ambitions.
A bit of fire, a little pain, but the definitive Stereophonics record remains elusive.