Ahhh remember 1999? There was the Euro. Bill Clinton single-handedly persuading sex shops to stock cigars. Gwyneth Paltrow giving that Oscar speech. Columbine. Man United doing the treble. Posh marrying Becks. Edward marrying Sophie. Guigsy and Bonehead leaving Oasis. It was also the year three Welshmen trounced the charts, music channels and radio stations collectively to become the UK’s rock band du jour with their album Performance And Cocktails.
Then something happened. They started whining about the trappings of their illustrious fame and generally lost it a bit on 2001’S J.E.E.P. Then one of the Welshmen was told his services were no longer needed (Stuart Cable) by the lead Welshman (Kelly Jones). A year passed and their junkfest You Gotta Go There To Come Back was shifted out just in time for summer 2002. Now five years on, it can be confirmed that the local boy in the photograph was indeed abducted.
Forget the obese pretentiousness of the title. Forget Kelly Jones’s overblown insistence to wail like a cat downing battery fluid. Where are the songs? The first 20 minutes of LSVO judder by forgetfully. The new rock ‘n’ roll may be the new new, but it’s a no-no for the Stereophonics. Jones is desperate to branch out their sound. His vocal parts are produced to the point you wonder whether his abductees replaced him with an android. It works quite well on recent single Dakota, meshing a spacey ’80s rhythm with the patented Phonics chorus. While it is noble to want to reinvent after eight years in the business, the Stereophonics do it at odds with themselves.
Early on, Jones busies himself with the now customary session of Rod Stewart karaoke. Rewind jumps back to the fringes of Joshua Tree territory. Pedal Pusher is much of the same degrading stuff Jones has been putting out of late, with that painfully faux snarl. And as ever, the song choruses are recycled in the way the Stereophonics like to recycle hem. This just feels it was produced to deadline for the bankable spring release and summer tour.
But most people knew the direction the Stereophonics were taking when Jones grew his hair and took to wearing white suits and stetsons to shows with a million dollar grin. If there is a saving grace – of very few – Deadhead is it, reminding you why once, the Stereophonics were so good. All one can do is hope – or pray if it’s your bag – the aliens will return the real Jones without the amnesia, clutching that great notepad of songs he always seemed to carry.