The Modfather returns with his latest offering & eleventh solo album blending electronic rock with a slight reggae feel to his more autonomous jazz vibes, offering a throwback to his Style Council days. While most of his peers are content to trade on past glories & play it safe without venturing from their comfort zone, Weller continues to push his artistic sphere further in the perfect follow up to ‘Wake Up The Nation’. Always known to refuse to limit himself with his god giving songwriting talent, ‘Sonik Kicks’ offers perhaps for the first time every musical gene the genius ever wished to explore on one album, and done with a seamless energy bound on its favouritism of all things psychedelic.
The opener ‘Green’ with its refreshing drumbeats mirroring Paul’s inviting vocals is a suitable opener for what lies in store. He is then joined by long time fans and previous collaborator’s Graham Coxon & Noel Gallagher on the most catchy of songs ‘The Attic’, a serious reminder of how Weller was the real catalyst of the Britpop era with its instantaneous grabbing beats. Track three ‘Kling I Klang’ oozes early punk era Jam (circa In The City), with a fine hint of what one would define as krautrock before moving into the more melodic setting with ‘Sleep of the Serene’, allowing the listener a temporary respite for what lies ahead with its fine string arrangement.
The ballad ‘By The Waters’ then follows with its further tingling string arrangement accompanied by Weller’s soothing vocals before jumping into the album’s first single ‘The Dangerous Age’. A track that most acknowledges his mod past with its ‘shoo-wooping’ backing vocals, a perfect follow up to the previous two tracks, showing how easy it is for greatness to flit through such a range over the space of minutes whilst keeping its customers ear – A song that would be most welcome on a Ray Davis or Steve Marriott & Ronny Lane catalogue. Track seven ‘Study In Blue’ is a beautiful jazzy duet with new wife in tow, a further welcoming throwback to his Style Council days.
Continuation of the albums tightness is kept alive in the most easy free flowing manner on the purely psychedelic ‘Dragonfly’.The next offering ‘When Your Gardens Overgrown’ is clearly the albums finest offering due to its simplicity, but only for the fact it’s Paul Weller simplicity and other artist’s difficulty. With its rapturous chorus, The Modfather is letting us know that songs like ‘Town Called Malice‘ & ‘Beat Surrender’ are not forgotten by the man. The single ‘Around The Lake’ is a further electronic offering with its most satisfying drumbeats edging proceedings along nicely.
Following the interlude of ‘Twilight’ the psychedelic twist continues on ‘Drifters’, a song unlike almost any previous Weller offering and a clear ode to the psychedelic influenced Beatles era. The track perfectly sums up Sonik Kicks in that each song is predominantly unlike the other.
Penultimate track ‘Paperchase’ brings us gradually back down more closely to earth, a Blur like track with Weller’s soft vocals bringing proceedings to a close, a song with its welcoming folk feel which was more sounded on ’22 Dreams’. Sonik Kicks’ closing track ‘Be Happy Children’ is a bit of an emotional puller which features two of Wellers children contributing vocals. A song high on emotion that would encourage the listener to draw their loved one’s close. A most suitable ending to such a fine album.
Sonik Kicks is out now.
David Mc Partlin.