New Release: Stereophonics - Graffiti on the Train
First studio album in Four Years
A gap of four years is pretty unusual for Stereophonics; between the years of 1997 and 2009 they seemed fairly content to release an album every couple of years and for a while at-least they seemed to be chugging along fairly nicely. The last couple of album however 'Keep Calm and Carry On' seemed to suit its title down to the ground. It was a rather forgettable affair with the band seemingly happy to chug out track after track of stuff that didn't really say or mean anything.
Now though, four years have gone by and the band is back with 'Graffiti on the Train', so has their extended break been beneficial? The first impression given off by 'Graffiti on the Train' is that the band is in a much more sombre place. Up-tempo numbers have been replaced by piano lines and drifty, melancholic vocals. All in all it's a rather atmospheric record, something which is particularly evident on 'Violins and Tambourines', a track that chooses to build slowly until its rapturous crescendo.
There's a definitive feeling that flows through 'Graffiti on the Train'; it doesn't feel like a mish-mash of tracks, instead there's a clear focus which gives the record a toned down feel. The relaxed nature of the album doesn't mean that Jones and co don't have anything to say; the album's title track certainly packs a punch - those familiar with Stereophonics' previous output will feel at home listening to the ballad, it has echoes of their earlier work and it manages to build to an engaging and experimental finale before it disappears into pretention and outstays its welcome.
Other album highlights include 'We Share The Same Sun' and 'In a Moment' where Jones waxes lyrical about some of the regrets he has from when his status meandered towards celebrity rather than musician. Currently playing on radio airwaves is 'Indian Summer', a plodding, easy-listening single that has an element of Bruce Springsteen about it - they've certainly crafted a catchy three minutes or so and it has been a long time since anyone has been able to say that about Stereophonics.
There are missteps along the way, even the stand out tracks don't particularly live long in the memory but the album has a fresher feeling and even hints at a new lease of life for the band. It's good to see them venture into something a little bit different after years of frankly, throwaway material. It's probably a little too late in the game for Stereophonics to be winning over legions of new fans, but there's more than enough here to keep the existing ones happy.