March 27, 2012
Review: Paul Weller – ‘Sonik Kicks’
Paul Weller – Sonik Kicks
We last heard from Weller back on 2010’s raucous and diverse return-to-form Wake Up The Nation — 16 short, snappy and often plain weird tracks of Modfather magic that earned a Mercury nomination among its plaudits. It appeared that he was one of those aging artists that could reinvent with success, and still had access to the well of creative songwriting that has informed the majority of his career to date.
The question that (some) people were asking (perhaps) was whether the sharp-suited Weller, now once again a father of newborns, could keep the mojo running for its follow up. The answer: kind of, yeah.
There are a lot of different genre fragments drifting through Sonik Kicks, and Weller takes a decent stab at most of them. The rousing psych-rocker ‘Green’, with its disorientating panning and intermittent squeals of guitar picks up the baton from Wake Up The Nation, and even the precarious dub-jazz of ‘Study In Blue’ doesn’t induce as much vomit as the notion would suggest.
‘Kling I Klang’ is a harmless bit of throwaway vaudeville ska, its rapid-pace giving way to a delicate interlude of electronics-and-strings rather pompously entitled ‘Sleep Of The Serene’. But it’s on the safer touchstones of ‘By The Waters’ — Weller back in acoustic Wild Wood mode — and the sombre ‘Dragonfly’ that Sonik Kicks really pulls its weight; competent yet not over-polished arrangements and production work from Simon Dine and Weller himself aiding proceedings.
Despite developing a slightly sanctimonious image in the press in recent years, Weller isn’t afraid to poke fun at himself; something pretty well on ‘That Dangerous Age’, an airy self-examination dealing with the growing strain age has on a body with a schedule as rigorous as his.
Sonik Kicks isn’t without its faults — the Sergeant Pepper’s march of ‘Paper Chase’ is tedious, while ‘Be Happy Children’’s attempt to pay homage to wistful Curtis Mayfield-type soul is an abomination — but Weller seems to have found that point between resisting stagnation and experimentations that don’t reek of an aging rocker out of touch. Wake Up The Nation is a latter-day benchmark he is not likely to surpass, but tracks like ‘When Your Garden’s Overgrown’ from Sonik Kicks are strong, tail-end-of-career tracks that Weller shows no sign of running out of anytime soon. And when Neil Young, admittedly 13 years his senior, is resorting to covering ‘God Save The Queen’ on his latest, that’s nothing to sniff at.
Read this review in context over at THE STOOL PIGEON