Stereophonics - Decade In The Sun: Best of

2009-01-16 16:12
Stereophonics are a good band. And by "good", I mean "safe". Bless 'em, they are Welsh after all. Sounding somewhere between a watered-down Oasis and American college rock-lite, they’ve certainly stayed the course where more incendiary genres have crashed and burned. This Greatest Hits album does an admirable job of pulling together the best bits of an extensive back catalogue. The thing about collections like this is that any die-hard fan would already own the songs on their respective albums; what it really does, then, is offer a pretty good primer to the band so that you can dip in your toes without taking the plunge into full-blown obsession. Which means it's probably perfect for people like me.

You get a generous 20 tracks on this album – it's solid bang for your buck. However – and I won't go so far as to use the word "filler" here – there are quite a few songs that are just too bland for my taste – "You're My Star" and "It Means Nothing", for example, don't strike me as anything more than rock muzak. The good stuff is pretty great, though.

The disc kicks off with their biggest hit to date, 2005's "Dakota". A classic rocker, but more interesting songs lurk on the playlist. "The Bartender and the Thief" shows what the band can do in full-throttle mode, and they do it well. The sleazy overtones of "Superman" with singer Kelly Jones in falsetto mode is the kind of song that would be great as part of a Guy Ritchie soundtrack. However, on "Devil", Jones puts his whiskey-gravelled vocal chords to more appropriate use in a growly jam. And I won't pretend to be immune to the Britpoppy charms of "I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio". Of course, dismayingly, they had to include that cloyingly catchy number, "Have a Nice Day", which I've always found to have the exact opposite effect.

All in all, it's an excellent overview of the band that proves that they're worthy of their longevity – but stops short of making me run out to buy their back catalogue.

I can't deny that the Stereophonics have permeated the musical landscape over the past 10 years. In fact, listening to Decade in the Sun, I was surprised at how many songs I recognized by sound, if not by name. The truth is, I’ve never been impressed enough by them to want to find out more.

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