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Album: Stereophonics, Keep Calm and Carry On, (Mercury)

Andy Gill
Friday 13 November 2009 01:00 GMT

For their 7th album – their first with guitarist Adam Zindani listed as a full member – Stereophonics have enlisted the help of producer Jim Abbiss, perhaps hoping for a little of the anthemic fairy-dust he's sprinkled over Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian in recent years. And in places, that's not far from the case: "I Got Your Number" is a Kasabian-esque galumphing boogie, while the turgid riff and windy clichés of "Live'n'Love" are reminiscent of Oasis at their most emptily anthemic.

But overall, what comes across from Keep Calm and Carry On is confusion, as the band lurches from one style to another. "Trouble" is standard grunge riffery, "Beerbottle" stumbles along on a quirky drum-machine figure, and the single "Innocent" finds Kelly Jones recollecting the optimism of his youth in jaunty pop-rock style. At no point does there seem any coherent momentum, nor is there any unity about the songs themselves, which range from seaside pick-up lines to lovelorn melancholia, frustrated fulminations about existence to confused commentaries on parental drinking habits. Small wonder the album should conclude with the plonking piano number "Show Me Now", a plea for guidance. Stereophonics may have dispensed with most of the wall-to-wall guitar barrages, but they've yet to replace them with anything as well-defined.

Download this: Innocent, Show Me Now

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