Oh no, not him again. I didn't find too much that appealed to me hugely among the new album releases this Friday. The Chills for sure. St. Vincent left me rather cold as I'd expected it would. Then, late on Sunday evening, I thought I'd give Paul Weller's new one a try. And all in all I was very pleasantly surprised.
I'm never sure whether to give Weller's recent stuff a listen. He's still a pretty prolific artist, with a new album every year or two and making every effort to challenge himself and not to make the same record twice. I was never the hugest fan of either The Jam, Style Council or his solo incarnation. There is much that he's done over the years that leaves me quite cold. But he is after all the man who wrote Going Underground, My Ever Changing Moods and Wildwood, and that shouldn't be forgotten. I certainly recognise and appreciate his talent. That's a difficult one to deny entirely, even his greatest detractors might be obliged to admit that. Never the hippest name to drop perhaps, but he still makes a strong case for himself.
Latest album Fat Pop is worth a listen. The man is 62 now, but it's to his credit that he's still a restless soul and this is a varied and solid and sometimes quite surprising record. I imagine everyone knows where they stand with Weller by now, I sometimes have a problem with his singing voice, an over-earnestness perhaps, and sometimes with the worthiness of his sentiments, but the arrangements here are highly creative and often rather addictive and he seems a man comfortable within his skin and where he finds himself in 2021.
Always someone determined to maintain a basic positivity it seems, despite the fact that he also comes across as a cynical character, he conciously tries to keep it out of the music. Fat Pop shows that you can actually expect old dogs to pick up new tricks sometimes. Drawing on Funk, Soul, Folk and the records of his youth, on first listen, it ticks my requisite boxes and I'll be back.. Weller will never be a mainstay on my record player but it's not difficult to see how he still makes magazine covers even now. Because he still belongs there.