Review – Stereophonics get experimental with their uplifting new album ‘Keep The Village Alive’

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Stereophonics – ‘Keep The Village Alive’ – 11/09/15 

8/10

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Not many bands can reach the 23-year mark and maintain the top of their game. But every time Stereophonics go quiet, they bounce right back with another top draw album. ‘Keep the Village Alive’ is the latest full length to be dropped in front of us by the Welsh rockers, after their come back to the stage over the summer on a few Festival bills across Europe and the massive T in The Park which brought us a sneak peak into some new material. Since then we’ve been sat eagerly awaiting an album full of new Stereophonics tunes.

The bouncing ‘C’est La Vie’, which we’re all to familiar with opens for the new album getting us in the party spirit with its pop-punk driven chorus leaving us bouncing from the start. It’s a massive tune you wouldn’t necessarily expect from Stereophonics of late, with it’s super fast upbeat lyrics reminding us something of The undertones back in the day. In contrast ‘White Lies’ feels far more shy then the opener. It’s beautifully written and progresses through to a big chorus that will sound massive played live on the big stage on their December Arena tour. We can’t help but predict this to be another future hit single for the new album.

We’re thrown straight into the funky riffs of ‘Sing Little Sister’, which picks up the pace again. In our eyes it’s Stereophonics at their very best. It feels like it could fit perfectly into the hit album ‘language. Sex. Violence. Other?’ with it’s similar drive and attitude to ‘Pedalpusher’. It’s without doubt one of our favourites off the album, and it’s likely to be a popular track live as it will have everyone moving and singing along to its infectious chorus. The 90’s generic anthem ‘I Wanna Get Lost In You’ appears which is the bands current single, and it’s grown on us massively since we heard it back in June when they debuted it live for the first time.

As the album progresses we’re taken on a journey of experimentation in the Stereophonics camp, as ‘Song For The Summer’ and ‘Sunny’ both have a stripped back chilled out verse progressing into uplifting choruses, where as ‘Fight For Flights’ has a darker feel to it with its eerie intro, something similar of the bands previous album ‘Graffiti on the Train’, which this song didn’t make the cut for when written around the same time. ‘My Hero’ takes another drastic turn with jingle bells and piano melodies creating a rather festive feeling sing along.

This album keeps on surprising us and doesn’t feel repetitive at any moment. It’s an album that sums up Stereophonics past 23 years, like a mix tape put together to take us on a journey through their progression through the previous 8 albums boasting something for everyone. Yet at the same time it feels very experimental and it’s what you would expect of a band 9 albums in, trying to keep things stimulating and diverse.
‘Into The World’ Slows the album right down, stripping it right back to the acoustic guitar and Kelly’s vocals, before the chorus starts introducing a little more piano and drums. ‘Mr & Mrs Smith’ finishes the ride with an upbeat positive acoustic driven sensation.

‘Keep The Village Alive’ is an album full of different stories both lyrically and musically, and it’s a fantastic unpredictable mix tape of music from start to finish. We’re left wondering if songs such as ‘C’est La Vie’, ‘Fight or Flight’ and ‘sunny’ have been knocking about on the Stereophonics hard drives since the start of their last album, what do they have hidden away already for their 10th full length?

 

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