Moody, dark, aggressive, sexual. These are all words that come to mind when considering the latest effort from Wales finest, the Stereophonics’ fifth album Language. Sex. Violence. Other? One of the best parts about this album is the fact that it’s such a brilliant departure from the sound that we’ve come to expect from the Stereophonics. It’s been 7 years since the release of their stunning debut Word Gets Around, and it’s more than apparent that they haven’t become complacent with their previous successes. There has been a natural progression of Kelly Jones’ songwriting skill, which becomes blatantly obvious when comparing the two albums. Word Gets Around is mid-nineties Britpop at its finest, but at the same time rarely touches on personal subject matter, as it relies on third-person narration throughout. Performance & Cocktails cemented the success of the Stereophonics over in the United Kingdom, but failed to arouse interest on this side of the Atlantic. Just Enough Education to Perform, not a personal favorite, was critically panned by the British music press, which is understandable seeing as its major single, ‘Mr. Writer’, was basically Jones expressing his disgust with the fickle and sometimes hateful music press in question. JEEP came across as petulant and sappy all at the same time, which didn’t make for a shining moment in the Stereophonics’ canon of work. Every artist is allowed a mistake or two though, and this one was duly corrected with the release of You Gotta Go There To Come Back in 2003. This album introduced a harder, more edgy rock n’ roll sound that has carried over even more intensely with LSVO.
‘Superman’, the opening track, sets the raw, electric-like tone that permeates the rest of the album. Hearing the opening chords, the listener is instantly pulled into the dirty underworld of sex, drugs & rock n’ fucking roll. Kelly Jones’ voice, which sounds like he’s had his fair share of whiskey and cigarettes, brings out the inner uninhibited side that creeps inside all of us from time to time. ‘Superman’ launches into ‘Doorman’, a confrontational tune that makes you feel like punching just about anything that crosses your path, as does ‘Brother’, the following song. ‘Devil’, one of our favorites, is difficult to articulate with words, because it has the power to captivate and intrigue the listener with its intense lyrics, but is definitely worthy of praise. When the tension from the first four tracks breaks, the release is ‘Dakota’, the band’s first single. With its upbeat synth sound and loose rhythm and lyrics, it perfectly matches its video (watch it!). ‘Rewind’, the following song, is the first ballad on LSVO, and asks the question which all of us inevitably ask ourselves, “If you could rewind your time, would you change your life?” It’s quite existential and sentimental, but don’t let this put you off, because it manages to avoid being depressing or downright cheesy.
‘Pedalpusher’, the next tune, is a gift to strippers everywhere! Within a mere 10 seconds of the song, it is impossible to listen to it without wanting a pole to dance on: definitely, the most provocative song of the album. ‘Girl’ reminds us of another song, but we cannot figure out what it is. If you can, let us know. The prize for the least interesting song on the album has to go to ‘Lolita’. It’s the low-point of LSVO. Neither one of us has listened to it all the way through to be completely honest. However, it can be forgiven since the following song, ‘Deadhead’, is a kick-ass, upbeat, sing-along kind of a tune. However, it does not break away from the tone that the album has set. We both think that ‘Deadhead’ is enough of a stomper that it could (finally) break the Stereophonics into mainstream American radio. ‘Feel’ is the last song of the album, which ends it on a rather melancholy note. It is the second ballad which, simply put, is a bit of a downer that’s like the cigarette after the wild night of crazy sex that is LSVO.
When thinking of Language. Sex. Violence. Other? on the whole, it’s virtually impossible to choose a favorite song. Although it carries a very distinct, undisrupted tone and style, it offers a variation of songs, each one suiting perfectly the different moods a listener may have. It is by far, one of the best albums of the year, which manages to seduce and arouse in the most unexpected ways. Worth every penny, so check it out! [ END ]
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