Paul Weller: Fat Pop (Volume 1) review – Masterful with flashes of magic

Fat Pop (Volume 1)
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Artist: Paul Weller
Genre: Rock
Label: Polydor

It’s safe to say that Paul Weller is mining a creative purple patch; this is his fifth album since 2015 alone and his second in under a year. Happily, he hasn’t compromised on quality despite his prolific output. His “lockdown” record began with him sending sketches of songs to each band member to plump out remotely until they could reconvene in a studio to record.

Opening track Cosmic Fringes lives up to the album’s title, its zippy pace, zig-zagging keyboards and flashes of guitar make an immediate statement. But it’s also a little misleading; Fat Soul may have been a better title, as most of these songs are imbued with the same soulful strut that Weller has made his own in recent years.

The garage licks and soft brass breakdown of True is aided by vocalist Lia Metcalfe, while Weller’s own daughter Leah co-wrote and sings on dreamy piano number Shades of Blue and stalwart rock guitarist Andy Fairweather Low turns his hand to the funk-laced Testify. The title track, with its slinky melody, sloping bassline and assorted woodwind instruments, dabbles in spacey psychedelia. Elsewhere, Weller gets personal with love songs Glad Times and Failed, while the socially conscious The Pleasure relates to the Black Lives Matter movement.

When all is said and done, Weller remains a master of crafting sophisticated, dependable albums with the occasional flash of magic.

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times