Release Date: Sep 11, 2015
Record label: Ignition Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Like Travis, it seemed Stereophonics couldn’t write a bad song in the early-2000s. For one of those bands, that tradition has continued up to present day with the release of Keep the Village Alive, the second in a now-mooted trilogy that will apparently end here. Too bad, too, because there’s an impressive yield of ace tracks from the hand of the always-reliable Kelly Jones.
Telling tales from vernacular Wales spun with craft and assurance. Once memorably described as the UK’s Bon Jovi, in that the Welsh band embrace their blue-collar fan base and espouse a working-class ethos through small-town vignettes and everyman narratives, Sterephonics’ ninth album – presented as Volume II of 2013’s Graffiti On The Train – is a familiar face-off between the introspective and the grandiose. .
Keep the Village Alive comes crashing out of the gates with "C'est la Vie," a dead ringer for the Manic Street Preachers at their anthemic best, a new wrinkle to Stereophonics' parade of anthems. Elsewhere on this, their ninth studio album, they try on a few new styles for kicks -- notably, there's a bit of muted Cult to "Sing Little Sister," a hint of neo-disco on "Fight or Flight," a bit of baroque pop on "Sunny" -- but otherwise, the power trio still trades on the hybrids of Coldplay and U2 inspirational urgency and melodramatic introspection that fill out arenas across the U.K. and Europe.
December 2013: the nouveau riche upstarts of Manchester City are playing a crucial Champions League group match away to the mighty reigning champions, Bayern Munich. For a City fan, the match starts terribly, as Thomas Müller and Mario Götze put the home side 2-0 up inside the first few minutes. Keep the Village Alive, the ninth studio album from Stereophonics opens up with the lead single, ‘C’est La Vie’.
Local Boy In The Photograph, Just Looking, Maybe Tomorrow, Dakota: a list of Stereophonics’ singles over the years since their 1997 breakthrough is impressive, if a bit ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ in terms of real A-list tunes. A singles band in the main, then, and even the most ardent followers of the Welsh quartet would begrudgingly agree that most of their albums since Word Gets Around (1997) and Performance And Cocktails (1999) have been rather patchy. Sales would suggest otherwise however, the band having enjoyed five UK album chart toppers to date with the lacklustre Pull The Pin the last of the five, undoubtedly one that’s guilty of living off the band’s former glory.