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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stereophonics - Keep Calm and Carry On

When Stereophonics first burst onto the scene over a decade ago, they were considered a really exciting new prospect due to their excellent suburban stories, which were delivered with verve, feeling and that amazing growl of vocalist Kelly Jones. Such vigour quickly dissipated though and, since then, occasional glimpses of that early promise have been drowned in a sea of pub-rock mediocrity; solid, unchallenging songs with clich├ęd lyrics and choruses that your older brother loves to sing along to. Still, their albums have continued to sell by the truckload, so it’s no surprise that the tried-and-tested Stereophonics formula is largely apparent on their seventh studio album.

Because the Welsh quartet aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel here, it’s no surprise that Keep Calm… isn’t going to change anyone’s life. On the occasions they reveal that the fire is still in their bellies, like in the adrenaline-fuelled Trouble, and that there is a narrative to their songs, like on the poppy Innocent, they can still be rather engaging, but all too often they veer towards the safety of the middle of the road. Songs like Could You Be The One? are sentimental claptrap, with Jones really overdoing the gravelled gargle that his once amazing voice has evolved into. The age-old Stereophonics problem is that, for every Dakota, there will always be a handful of dirge of the Mr Writer variety, and, frustratingly, Keep Calm… is no different.

Without wishing to make the previous two paragraphs seem superfluous, this album can be reviewed succinctly enough by simply saying that it is just another Stereophonics record, nothing more, nothing less.

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