Review : Paul Weller - Sonik Kicks
PopmattersThere seems to be but a few options for rock’s elder statesmen as they enter their 50s and beyond: either go raw and rude; stick to what you know; or go bananas and do something which, if successful, will put the young’uns in their place. Paul Weller went with the last option on new release Sonik Kicks and has produced a stunner. While traces of Modness are fairly discernible on solo release #11, Sonik Kicks also possesses a healthy psychedelic influence, and at other times sees the sharpest of sharp-suited silver foxes dabble in motorik beats and synthesizers.
Weller has rarely been known to rest on his creative laurels throughout his varied career. The most recent evidence of this is 2010’s Wake Up the Nation which, among other surprises, featured two collaborations with Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine. Before that, 2008’s 22 Dreams saw Weller delve into such unexpected genres as jazz and tango. While genres he explores on Sonik Kicks are a little more rock-friendly, an air of surprise still lingers on the periphery of the songs. Here things begin with the motorik beat of “Green”, at once a game-changer and a revision of past signatures; an inherent Modishness lurks just below the Kraut indebtedness and psychedelic guitar squalls. Most importantly, “Green” is spirited, an energetic and intriguing starter. Its follow up, “The Attic”, is perhaps the album’s brightest pop moment. The song retains the psychedelic guitar flourishes of its predecessor, fashioning them into ebullient pop hooks in such a way that, despite including lines like, “All day long I’m lonely / Waiting by my phone…Baby come home” the song sounds nothing short of invigorating....full text
GuardianSomewhere in Paul Weller's attic, there is a painting of him, bearded, with flares and an untamed Afro, blowing a panpipe. In recent years, Weller's appearance – the silver pineapple-top hair, the bespoke threads – has become increasingly ossified in antic Modness. The Weller you see, however, is not the Weller you hear. His music has run away, tuned in, dropped out.
Dedicated followers of Weller have been tested vigorously of late. The first initiation was 22 Dreams, 2008's restless, double-album exploration of folk and beyond. In 2010 came Wake Up the Nation, whose purpose was, again, to sort the men from the superannuated boys for whom Weller remained preserved in heroic amber. Sonik Kicks, his 11th solo album, proposes his most cosmic test thus far.
Its centrepiece is "Study in Blue", a curious duet with his new wife, Hannah. As expressions of pheromonal dovey-ness go, it's fine, although such talk coming from the lips of a serial leaver such as Weller would make newborn babes arch an eyebrow, let alone the mothers of his other five children.
The centrepiece has quite a centrepiece of its own, though. Midway through "Study in Blue", a free-form passage takes the song's wheezing jazz elements and mutates them into psychedelic dub reggae. It's just great, the sort of ganja-hinged preposterousness you'd never expect of Weller, even after "Trees" (the experimental five-part suite from Wake Up the Nation) or his conversation with God on 22 Dreams. You can't even ascribe the dub wholly to Weller's former vibes-bringer/producer Simon Dine, often credited as the midwife of his rebirth. Dine and Weller fell out last year and Weller carried on without him....full text
BbcThirty years ago, Paul Weller was number one. The Jam's A Town Called Malice spent three weeks at the top of the charts, its Motown bassline bustling, its finger clicks rustling. Watch its video now, and the 23-year-old at the middle of it has hardly changed in some ways. His Woking vowels are still 'ow's-yer-father; the haircut's still cockatoo-daft. But he sings a line in its first verse that's practically become his motto: "Stop apologising for the things you've never done, because time is short and life is cruel, and it's up to us to change."
Weller has never been a man to look back at his career, in anger or otherwise; time ain't been short for him either, but it seems to have inspired him rather than smothered him. Sonik Kicks, his 11th solo album, is alive with the vitality that implies. Nevertheless, so rapturous has been the reception to his recent LPs – 2008's 22 Dreams and 2010's Mercury Prize-nominated Wake Up the Nation – that's it's almost become a cliché to flag up his return-to-form as something thrillingly adventurous, even avant-garde. But this isn't skronky, dissonant (The) Wire (magazine) music: this is psychedelic, kaleidoscopic pop. It just happens to be made by a man always interested in filtering the past in his own way – and most 53-year-olds don't do that as peculiarly as this....full text
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