This may not be a startling comeback along the lines of Bob Dylan's Love and Theft, but that's fine, because over the last three decades the Stones haven't been about surprises: they've been about reliability. The problem is, they haven't always lived up to their promises, or when they did deliver the goods, it was sporadic and unpredictable. And that's what's unexpected about A Bigger Bang: they finally hold up their end of the bargain, delivering a strong, engaging, cohesive Rolling Stones album that finds everybody in prime form.
It has been trumpeted as a return to basics, a rejection of modish fancies in favour of timeless blues-rock. But in one respect, the new Rolling Stones album could not be more of the moment. This summer's must-have for any self-respecting major rock band is a daft pseudonym on their promotional CDs: Coldplay became the Fir Trees, Franz Ferdinand's forthcoming album bears the name C Drive Backup and A Bigger Bang purports to be the debut release from the Little Wonders.