So here we are in the third month of 2005 and already there’s an album that is
sure to land in my top ten for the year. Language. Sex. Violence. Other?,
the fifth from Wales’ Stereophonics, has given me no choice but to make that
bold of a statement. These guys have come up with eleven tracks of edgy rock
that are a bit of a diversion from their pop-laden music of records past. There
are elements of new wave, punk, post-punk, garage, grunge, alternative…..call it
what you will, but it’s easier to say it just flat-out rocks.
“Superman” is pulsing and hypnotic, and sets the mood for the rest of the album,
which is not to say the whole record sounds the same. “Doorman” is an energetic
piece with a dark chorus that would have made Kurt Cobain proud. “Devil” is a
cookie-cutter modern rock song, and “Dakota” and “Lolita” are the closest it
gets to Stereophonics’ earlier stuff. “Pedalpusher” and “Girl” are raunchy and
retro, yet maintain a sense of melody. “Feel” has an epic Radiohead quality
about it and is a nice cherry on top of the cake.
With all of the bands the industry has tried to cram down our throats in the
past few years—the Vines, the Hives, and even to some extent the White Stripes
and the Strokes—the Stereophonics have found a way to be cool without trying too
hard. They just write solid songs that are edgy and powerful, but not forced.
(Are you listening, U2?) You can actually listen to every song on Language.
Sex. Violence. Other? and WANT to keep it stuck in your CD player.
Now, what was I doing before this album crossed my desk?