Stereophonics review: new album has its moments but is nothing to scream about

Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 05:00


Scream Above the Sounds




Twenty-five years together and 20 years since their first album – doesn’t time fly when you’re the type of meat’n’veg music act you can ignore between meals?

Welsh band Stereophonics started brilliantly with their 1997 debut, Word Gets Around. It was a mixture of guitar-laden rock music (a la Manic Street Preachers) but without any level of arch self-awareness, real intellect or pretentiousness (a la Manic Street Preachers).

Everyone loved them for years: they achieved five consecutive UK number-one albums, and in 2002 they headlined Slane Castle. But then the creative rafters began to cave in.

The band has soldiered on, despite personnel changes and the tragedy of original drummer Stuart Cable’s death (in 2010), but rarely has there been an album since 1999’s Performance and Cocktails that didn’t whiff of diminishing returns.

Scream Above the Sounds is not up there with the band’s best but it does redress certain imbalances. Opening track, Caught by the Wind, is a breakneck reminder of just how good Stereophonics can be, while ballad Before Anyone Knew our Name sees linchpin Kelley Jones poignantly address how it all began for the band. The remainder? Fifty shades of gravy.