So the Stereophonics’ fifth album Language. Sex. Violence. Other. just dropped last month. I assume that if you are reading this, that you are probably pretty hip (and good looking!), as such you are somewhat acquainted with this trio from the UK. However, I still feel I must provide a bit of introduction and back-story for those of you who are as yet unfamiliar. For those of you in the know, feel free to skip down to the part where I tell you what you should think about this album.
The Stereophonics is comprised of Kelly Jones (vocals, guitar), Richard Jones (bass guitar), and Javier Weyler (drums) who is the newest member. The band formed in 1996, in a Welsh town whose name baffles Americans in their attempts to pronounce it. Cwmaman, say it aloud, or better yet, try to run it through your spell check. My computer came up with “swagman” as an acceptable alternative, now I have to look that word up in my dictionary. As I have mentioned, Language. Sex. Violence. Other. is their fifth release, three of the previous albums have hit number one on the UK charts.
So, you like to rock. You enjoy new releases from Velvet Revolver and Audioslave. This is better. What, you don’t enjoy the aforementioned bands? You think they sound like retreads of formerly great bands trying to recapture a time in music that disappeared in the late ‘90s? That’s cool too, I completely agree, but you still like to rock, right? I know I’ve seen you at a show or in your car, occasionally throwing up the horns while thrusting your head back and forth to a particularly rocking song. Well my friend, I have found the album for you, ‘cause this album rocks.
I tend to like bands like Doves, Pinback and Elliott Smith, where men with beautiful voices sing beautiful songs. However, man cannot live on that alone, and Kelly Jones has a great voice, just in a different way. He’s a little like Trent Reznor and Chris Cornell, yet different and dare I say, better. He’s got to be a smoker to produce the guttural, gravely sounds in “Deadhead” and “Superman.” Some singers use this as a crutch to cover a lack of vocal range, but Jones can hit notes in the higher registers with a delicate touch. He can also belt out vocals with as much force as any great power singer. I guess he has a strong diaphragm.
The sounds and vocals are energetic and often life affirming. You can’t help but tap your foot and bob your head to “Superman,” which has a throbbing bass line occasionally punctuated by dulcet guitar notes. I know because I’m watching two people go through these motions this very second as the album plays and I’m writing this review. The band adds the occasional keyboard and electronic sounds to fill out certain songs, but for the most part, they keep it simple, stripped down rock. The entire album is strong, all of the songs having similar feel and tempo, fortunately, the guys didn’t feel the need to slow it down with any lame balladeering. So, pick it up and rock out.