‘Pull The Pin’ by Stereophonics

Rating: ★★★★☆

Pull The Pin, the bands sixth album, received mainly mixed response after its release in 2007. While there are some, peculiar songs, it is almost a turning point for the band. The timing of the album also coincided with Kelly Jones’ debut solo album, Only The Names Have Been Changed, which was actually recorded in between takes for his bands release.

“We were recording…and in-between takes I started doing these songs off the cuff. Three or four tracks in I realised that this could actually be something…strange how it’s always little things that makes big things happen.”

On Pull The Pin though, all twelve songs have that ‘classic Stereophonics’ sound with its guitar and vocal driven melodies that ring throughout. It begins similarly to Language Sex Violence Other, replacing Superman with Soldiers Make Good Targets. The noticeable harmonies in the chorus that continue from previous albums is also set in this opening song.

While the band is one of my all time favourites, I can’t help but feel disappointed by Pass The Buck. Its chorus is somewhat annoying and perhaps a little too repetitive but it isn’t long before It Means Nothing comes up; the first single for the album. It was released in September 2006, several months ahead of any other release. It’s a typical rock song with gentle guitars and mellow lyrics but is perhaps one of few ‘dark horses’ on the album. It stands out amongst the others as being quite a powerful piece of music despite its simplicity – a connection I am beginning to find a lot in some of the more recent reviews I’ve written.

Again, like Pass The Buck, I’m not exactly sure what the band were thinking when they wrote Bank Holiday Monday. It feels like a desperate attempt to be exciting but instead sounds like Kelly’s trying to shout over the top of the overly-keen guitars. I don’t think much of this song, but there is certainly a contrast going into what follows. Daisy Lane is the story about a young boy who, down the street where Kelly lives, was stabbed to death. It’s a peaceful song with the lyrics that really dig deep into your mind. Ignoring the words though, the song is calm and features really beautiful guitar riffs over a very basic drum beat. Typical Kelly vocals towards the end and a discrete guitar solo transforms the song from being slow and melodic into what is actually a powerful piece of music. It goes back to the simplicity being powerful, and this highlights that with huge colours.

What has been called ‘the albums laziest song’ by some critics comes up next, although I have to disagree. While Stone may contain the same lyrics from an earlier successful hit, Moviestar, they are used differently and really, who cares? The words fit the music perfectly and the rest of the lyrics flow on from them, so, I really don’t see a problem. It was also suggested that the song was written at short notice, something blamed on their old record label, however the song feels as good as their others. It features the distinct vocals that you’d expect from any other song and has the same impact too. It actually leads in pretty well into the second single which was the poorest chart performance since More Life In A Tramps Vest from Word Gets Around by reaching #32. My Friends, which after having a great start, begins to get annoying after the second chorus. I Could Lose Ya is possibly the most useless song on the album, offering nothing at all.

Bright Red Star goes back to the mellow moods of Daisy Lane, predominantly guitar and vocals. Serving only as a break between full band songs, its a roughly sung piece. The guitar melody that is played throughout begins okay but slowly becomes too repetitive until a slight build up and slow ending. If you turned up your speakers to listen to the quieting ending of Bright Red Star, now would be a good time to turn them down as the high-energy Lady Luck pretty much starts on the word go. What I would consider the other ‘dark horse’ on the album, the song has outbursts of excitement before structured calm intervals as verses. Its chorus’ are powerful and lyrics, ‘don’t cry, cry, baby now, you’re my, my, lady luck’ seem to echo in your mind.

Crush and Drowning finish the album together successfully. Crush is a more classic sounding Stereophonics song with stabbed verses and fuller choruses with typical harmonies by the band. Drowning though almost sets a taster of what’s to come in the sense of ‘darker’ songs. With the following album being Keep Calm and Carry On where many of the songs are dark themed and the new single on their best of compilation, My Own Worst Enemy, you really feel the sense of the start of something new. After Drowning opens with distorted guitars and the usual vocal you’d expect from Kelly, the song builds up into a frighteningly powerful song that ends on a massive high.

 

Artist:  Stereophonics
Release Name:  Pull The Pin
Type:  Album
Date:  2007, October 12th
Purchase Link:  http://shop.stereophonics.com
Artist Info:  http://www.stereophonics.com

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