Highlights: Kling I Klang, By The Waters, When Your Garden’s Overgrown
I don’t know, I just find it so hard to look forward to a Paul Weller album. The man is not a bad songwriter, and his back catalogue, while uneven, is still impressive. Everyone needs a couple of classic Jam albums as well as a decent Style Council best-of in their collection. Now when it comes to Weller’s solo records, I always get a feeling something vital is missing. Sonik Kicks, like all of its perfectly fine predecessors, gives away the answer: what is missing is a fucking good hook.
And the problem is that you do need a good hook in your pop music, there’s simply no getting away from it. No one’s questioning Weller’s excellent taste or influence on British music scene, but sometimes it’s too hard to find inspiration behind all that effort and hard work.
Sonik Kicks is a nice little album of 14 well-written and well-produced songs. From the range of genres, styles and influences running through this thing you get the idea that Weller is in an inspired mood here. Krautrock (particularly in the opener “Green”), pub rock (the catchy “Kling I Klang”), his usual soulful balladry (“Be Happy Children”), funk (“That Dangerous Age”), a little dub (the final groove of the frankly overlong “Study In Blue”), etc. My favourite is probably “When Your Garden’s Overgrown” – which has one Weller’s best and most charming choruses in recent memory.
In truth there’s something good to be said about each and every song on Sonik Kicks. Even the two or three duller numbers actually work in the context of the album – or are perhaps saved by a brilliant bass line or lovely orchestration. Overall – good stuff. Not too impressive, but too good to ignore while it’s on. Well, as long as you can bring yourself to preferring this to another run of “Going Underground”…