The Welsh band Stereophonics have been going since the late nineties. They represent a typical alternative rock sound clearly influenced by the 1970's. Where most bands from their era are planning reunion tours or making come back albums, Stereophnics don't need to. They simply haven't been away from the scene. They are an established band, especially after what is probably their most famous song "Have a nice day", which gave them commercial success. However, it is hard for me to think of them as just another mainstream rock band. Yes, they had the occasional hit and yes their music was featured in several TV commercials, but does this make them mainstream? I don't think so. Their latest album Graffiti On The Train, released March 2013, shows exactly how varied the band is and why it is so hard to place them in a box.
The opening track "We Share The Same Sun" is an up tempo catchy song. No doubt this is a typical Stereophonics sound. Although often classed as a alternative rock band, this first track stands out in perfection of sound. It doesn't sound rough or alternative at all, which makes it slightly less exciting. Track 2 is the album title song. It continues in the smooth way the first track ends. And again it's catchy, but at this point I'm not sure if it's what I wanted to hear. I'm still waiting for something a bit rougher. The next track "Indian Summer", which consequently is the single released, doesn't impress me much more. A sliding guitar riff backed by strings meant to sell. Not bad, but the album is starting to go one way a bit.
The track featured below is second to last track on the new album. It's a good example of how the band sparks one's attention in the first 20 seconds of the song, but then seems to drift into a less exciting sequence.
"Take me" is the first track on the album sounding slightly darker and more interesting. Stereophonics have managed to spark my attention once more just before I nodded off. I'm pleased I kept listening at this point. "Catacomb" is what I was expecting and hoping for. Roar and hard, it is exactly what I want to hear. The vocals sound slightly Oasis like, but generally the track is much loser and less polished than earlier tracks. Some of the guitar riffs even remind me of Audioslave or something from the seventies. "Catacomb" and the next track "Roll The Dice" form the most exciting tracks, right in in the centre of the album. The album declines with a bluesy ballad sounding somewhat like Amos Lee and a track that could have been Rod Stewart's. Very different sounding songs, with sparking intro's.
I have given a slight negative spin to this album. But now I come to think of it, this is mainly down to my expectations. If you are expecting catchy songs in a smooth jacket, you will love this album. However if you are looking for something new and alternative, you will be disappointed. None the less the album is perfect company for a bike ride through a very cold March. After adjusting my expectations I have come to like the album and am curious what these songs would sound like live.