Music

Paul Weller: Sonik Kicks

Paul Weller has expressed utmost confidence in Sonik Kicks, going so far as to say, of all his many releases, this is the album he would award "Desert Island Disc" status to.


Paul Weller

Sonik Kicks

Label: Yep Roc
US Release Date: 2012-03-20
UK Release Date: 2012-03-19
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

There seems to be but a few options for rock’s elder statesmen as they enter their 50s and beyond: either go raw and rude; stick to what you know; or go bananas and do something which, if successful, will put the young'uns in their place. Paul Weller went with the last option on new release Sonik Kicks and has produced a stunner. While traces of Modness are fairly discernible on solo release #11, Sonik Kicks also possesses a healthy psychedelic influence, and at other times sees the sharpest of sharp-suited silver foxes dabble in motorik beats and synthesizers.

Weller has rarely been known to rest on his creative laurels throughout his varied career. The most recent evidence of this is 2010’s Wake Up the Nation which, among other surprises, featured two collaborations with Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine. Before that, 2008’s 22 Dreams saw Weller delve into such unexpected genres as jazz and tango. While genres he explores on Sonik Kicks are a little more rock-friendly, an air of surprise still lingers on the periphery of the songs. Here things begin with the motorik beat of "Green", at once a game-changer and a revision of past signatures; an inherent Modishness lurks just below the Kraut indebtedness and psychedelic guitar squalls. Most importantly, "Green" is spirited, an energetic and intriguing starter. Its follow up, "The Attic", is perhaps the album’s brightest pop moment. The song retains the psychedelic guitar flourishes of its predecessor, fashioning them into ebullient pop hooks in such a way that, despite including lines like, "All day long I’m lonely / Waiting by my phone…Baby come home" the song sounds nothing short of invigorating.

After the rollicking "King I Klang", the album takes a detour into the vaguely pretentious (the lush-stringed soundscape "Sleep of the Serene") and downtempo (the lovely "By the Waters"). In no time Sonik Kicks perks up again with "That Dangerous Age", the album’s first single and most overtly Mod cut. Thanks to the "shoo-oop" backing vocals, Weller can now add being the founder of electro doo-wop to the list of his many achievements.

The dub-heavy "Study in Blue" marks the album's halfway point. A duet between Weller and current wife Hannah, it's akin to Weller’s past Style Council efforts while resisting that project's pop constraints. Given its strong first half, Sonik Kicks could easily drop off from this point and still be an impressive release, but what remains effortlessly matches what came before in energy and substance. "Dragonfly" is a total psych trip that features Blur’s Graham Coxon on guitar and Hammond organ. "Garden Overgrown" is another '60s-psych tribute, but substitutes Noel Gallagher for Coxon and throws in a nice Syd Barrett reference as well. The album closes on a dangerous note with "Be Happy Children", a soul ballad that balances the fine line between heartfelt and hokey. A closing whisper from one of Weller's younger offspring just about tips the balance, but thankfully the song is saved by another Weller descendant, daughter Leah, whose mother is Weller’s Style Council companion Dee C Lee. Leah has a sturdy vocal prowess to both match her mother’s and serves as a nice compliment to Weller’s rich delivery.

In recent press for Sonik Kicks, Weller has expressed utmost confidence in the release, going so far as to say, of all his many releases -- from his work in the Jam on through the Style Council's Our Favorite Shop and highly regarded solo release Stanley Road -- this is the album he would award "Desert Island Disc" status to. Given Wake Up the Nation's Mercury Music Prize nomination and Sonik Kick's spiritedness, it's apparent that Weller is turning a new leaf in his career and that other, equally strong, releases in the coming decade are not far behind. We are only three months into 2012, so whether Sonik Kicks will be remembered when year-end accolades roll around is even up for conjecture. For now, however, Weller has made an extremely worthy case for remaining the master of his craft.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

The 60 Best Albums of 2007

From tech house to Radiohead and Americana to indie and everything in between, the 60 best albums of 2007 included many of the 2000s' best albums.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau's 'Walden'

Henry David Thoreau's Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Will COVID-19 Kill Movie Theaters?

Streaming services and large TV screens have really hurt movie theaters and now the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered multiplexes and arthouses. The author of The Perils of Moviegoing in America, however, is optimistic.

Gary D. Rhodes, Ph.D
Television

Fleabag's Hot Priest and Love as Longing

In season two of Fleabag, The Priest's inaccessibility turns him into a sort of god, powerful enough for Fleabag to suddenly find herself spending hours in church with no religious motivation.

Music

Annabelle's Curse's 'Vast Oceans' Meditates on a Groundswell of Human Emotions (premiere)

Inspired by love and life, and of persistent present-day issues, indie folk band Annabelle's Curse expand their sound while keeping the emotive core of their work with Vast Oceans.

Music

Americana's Sarah Peacock Finds Beauty Beneath Surface With "Mojave" (premiere + interview)

Born from personal pain, "Mojave" is evidence of Sarah Peacock's perseverance and resilience. "When we go through some of the dry seasons in our life, when we do the most growing, is often when we're in pain. It's a reminder of how alive you really are", she says.

Television

Power Struggle in Beauty Pageants: On 'Mrs. America' and 'Miss Americana'

Television min-series Mrs. America and Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana make vivid how beauty pageants are more multi-dimensional than many assume, offering a platform to some (attractive) women to pursue higher education, politics, and more.

Hilary Levey Friedman
Music

Pere Ubu 'Comes Alive' on Their New, Live Album

David Thomas guides another version of Pere Ubu through a selection of material from their early years, dusting off the "hits" and throwing new light on some forgotten gems.

Music

Woods Explore Darkness on 'Strange to Explain'

Folk rock's Woods create a superb new album, Strange to Explain, that mines the subconscious in search of answers to life's unsettling realities.

Music

The 1975's 'Notes on a Conditional Form' Is Laudably Thought-Provoking and Thrilling

The 1975 follow A Brief Inquiry... with an even more intriguing, sprawling, and chameleonic song suite. Notes on a Conditional Form shows a level of unquenchable ambition, creativity, and outspoken curiosity that's rarely felt in popular music today.

Music

Dustbowl Revival's "Queen Quarantine (A Home Recording)" Is a Cheeky Reproach of COVID-19 (premiere)

Inspired by John Prine, Dustbowl Revival's latest single, "Queen Quarantine (A Home Recording)", approaches the COVID-19 pandemic with wit and good humor.

Books

The 2020 US Presidential Election Is Going to Be Wild but We've Seen Wild Before

Americans are approaching a historical US presidential election in unprecedented times. Or are they? Chris Barsanti's The Ballot Box: 10 Presidential Elections That Changed American History gives us a brief historical perspective.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.