The band everybody loves to hate are back. They may not be pushing any boundaries or breaking new barriers but what they are doing is maturing musically with each album and doing it very well. Comparing "More Life..." from their debut album to the super smooth "Maybe Tomorrow" here just show how the band have developed as a unit and as individuals.
Opening with slow burner "Help Me (She's Out Of Her Mind)" you're not immediately dragged into the music but as the track goes on the backing vocals grow, the guitar tracks multiply and you're unconsciously tapping your foot to the lazy beat. The aforementioned lazy tomorrow is one the album's highlights before we're thrown into debut single "Madame Helga" with its T-Rex stylings brimming full of energy. Unforgivably at track three though the line "she slapped my white face" has already been used in two different songs!
Elsewhere though Kelly Jones' lyrics are back to their usual high standards. "Getaway" is a tale of forgotten youth where Jones creates the image of a whole childhood in just a few verses. "Nothing Precious At All" the tale of young girl witnessed in a coffee shop is what Jones does best. Story songs, a seemingly forgotten craft these days. The piano motif sinks itself into your mind from its first appearance and it's another song that is great because it's not trying to be clever. It's just trying to be a good song. Stereophonics wear their influences on their sleeve and they are easy to pick out here. There's a strong Black Crowes esque vibe to the whole album, perhaps partly due to the disc being mixed by Jack Joseph Puig and there are also traces of Neil Young, Counting Crows and AC/DC in the whole shebang.
Easily moving from all out rocking to the delicacy of "Since I Told You It's Over", via the dark, brooding string laden "Rainbows and Pots of Gold" the Stereophonics now have their own sound. It's not going to see jaws hit the floor with its originality and inspiration but it may send shivers down the spine and touch people's emotions. It's just good old fashioned rock and roll with songs that people can believe in.