Monday, 29 October 2018
Thursday, 18 October 2018
Saturday, 6 October 2018
Thursday, 13 September 2018
Friday, 7 September 2018
"Word Gets Around" is effortlessly one of the best rock albums of the '90s. It has a case for domination far beyond its decade, too. There's something inimitable in that record's mixture of anger, sadness, and nostalgia - in the bitter realisation that the things you love die, living on in memory, and yet nothing else that surrounded the hole they made seems to even notice they're gone. Twelve tales of a young Welsh lad watching himself and those around him lose friends, relatives, roads, houses, and entire villages, while the wider world cracks wise about intercourse with livestock.
The Stereophonics' second album, Performance and Cocktails, didn't really hit the same bittersweet spot. That can happen, right? Less time to write, less time spent in the home that suffuses their debut, less time observing something beyond the dizzying opportunities that unfold in front of twenty-somethings who have suddenly hit it big.
"Just Looking" is the exception. It might have been written in an Amsterdam hotel room, but unlike the alternating bombast and cool detachment that makes up the rest of ...Cocktails, it retains the sense of melancholy helplessness that made the band worth falling in love with (and which chimed with my existential panic in the winter of '99, as I slid into my second term at university). It starts with easily one of Jones' sweetest riffs, before lurching into a similarly career-high Stereophonics chorus-juggernaut. It was probably the band's last chance to make a song about not being sure what they want or how to get it land, before such howls of dissatisfaction would be drowned out by their own success (this album went quintuple platinum in the UK; their next did better still).
And make it land they do. Hell, even the video sticks out from the pack; the only one among the five made for the album's singles to not just ape a famous movie and consider it job done.
The band have had other songs after this one that I've loved. This was the last time I got to love them as what they started out as, though. Some things we adore and lose get replaced, and some of those replacements can be just as good, or better.
They're never the same, though. Nostalgia has a unique taste, salty and sweet.
And this is one of my favourite slices.