A relaxed eighth album from Kelly Jones and company.
Matthew Horton 2013
The eighth studio album from Stereophonics finds Kelly Jones at a crossroads.
Post-greatest hits, Graffiti on the Train comes out on the band's own label Stylus Records and presumably affords Jones the time and space to carve a new niche.
And somehow, just about, he does. This is, inevitably, a more grown-up record than we've heard from him before.
Not that Jones has ever been anything less than serious. But Graffiti on the Train feels relaxed, at terms with its place in the world – and if that risks longueurs of steadfastly ordinary rock, then them's the breaks.
Its opening is typical, with We Share the Same Sun turning a bluesy guitar over and over against sinister keys – no quick rewards here.
Later, the album broods, as on the semi-gothic Take Me, or the doo-wopping trad-rock Been Caught Cheating – the latter eventually erupting into a more familiar, anthemic chorus. Not exactly deft melodically, it nevertheless rouses like all the chunkiest Stereophonics favourites.
It's followed by Roll the Dice where a Supergrass-y vamp morphs into the kind of quasi-operatic shapes Muse might reach for, and both songs border on the exciting. Similar is the motorik last minute of Violins and Tambourines.
More representative though is the Traveling Wilburys chug-along of Indian Summer, with its vague, unobtrusive appeal and sense of weathered comfort. It feels as if it should come from a band a generation older, but Stereophonics are heading in that direction.
For all the occasional pyrotechnics, Graffiti on the Train is clearly the work of a man and an outfit that's done the rock'n'roll thing and is now easing into the next step. This is a solid enough start.