American critics have been busy slagging off the Stereophonics sophomore effort for the past month, labeling it second-rate Oasis and Radiohead. They’re flat out wrong. First of all, this Welsh band shares little of Oasis’ Beatles obsession and nothing of Radiohead’s subtle guitar layering and poetic, but obtuse, lyrics. If anything, they’re closer to the Manic Street Preachers in sound (also being a power trio) and Kelly Jones’ lyrics are so vividly descriptive that they play more like a film set to music than any sort of poetic ramblings (case in point: “The Bartender and the Thief” or 1997’s “Local Boy In The Photograph”).
Then, there’s the Voice, as Jones is lovingly known in the U.K. Jones shreds his vocal cords every time he opens his mouth, with a classic rock roar, inspired equally by Rod Stewart and ACDC. There’s nothing revolutionary here, just great rock and roll played by a band of consummate musicians with lyrics that rise above the rest of the alternative rock pack. That makes for one hell of an enjoyable listen in my book.