We all have particular releases which sparked the beginnings of a lustful affair with music, encounters which provided the ignition and others which more than most re-ignited and kept the fierce flames of emotional involvement burning ever since. For us The Eight Legged Groove Machine was certainly one of the latter; an album which simply gripped ears and spirit and gave a lust for music another mighty booster shot. That was 1988, and now thirty years after taking their first creative steps, The Wonder Stuff unveil their eighth studio album in the magnetic shape of 30 Goes Around The Sun.
Some have said that the band will probably never see a hit single again to match those escaping the likes of Hup and Never Loved Elvis; more than likely not make the same kind of impact as they did in those early successful years. They might be right, time will tell, but listening to 30 Goes Around The Sun, its title a reference to the life span of the band so far, they have the potential of coming damn close. There are moments within the twelve track romp which are prime Wonder Stuff majesty and other moments which captivate like the first touches of the creative sun on a cold rock pop landscape, and fair to say from start to finish the album has ears and the imagination grooving with the band’s finest effort in a while.
30 Goes Around The Sun saw the band return to “revisit it’s old stomping ground of Stourbridge” to record the album for its making and the persuasion of renowned heavy metal and hard rock producer, Simon Efemey (Paradise Lost/Napalm Death/The Wildhearts), to come back home to produce the record too. With a welcoming acoustic Intro to first catch attention, band and album instantly leap into ears with the feisty exploits of Don’t You Ever. Straight away engaging riffs offer a smile with their bait whilst the warm lure of Erica Nockalls’ violin adds emotive suggestiveness as rhythms begin their catchy tempting. Swiftly the song becomes an infectious canter, the guitars of Miles Hunt and Dan Donnelly romping along with sonic enterprise matched in alluring kind by the darker hues of Mark McCarthy’s bass. Once the distinctive and reflective tones and words tones of Hunt join the affair, the robust attraction has commandingly gripped ears and appetite. The track does mellow out a touch as it evolves and maybe loses a spark or two of its initial blaze though that is more than compensated by the melancholic strings and backing vocals of Nockalls as well as the anthemic swing of Tony Arthy’s rhythms.
The following In Clover offers another eagerly catchy and emotionally evocative slice of rock pop with violin and melodies alone, a tapestry of folkish seducing. There is a scent of Construction For The Modern Idiot days to the enthralling song, a fresh echo within something soon revealing its own masterful character before For The Broken Hearted shares its celebratory swing and melodic sunshine with the senses. Again folk and rock pop collude to infest hips and emotions, the track one of a great many within the album which has the listener’s instincts to move and grin firmly in its contagious hands.
Good Deeds And High offers a gentler moment for a breath to be taken though the imagination is busy with its melodic smoulder and sultry temptation. The unity of guitar and violin is certainly impossible to resist with a success more than matched by the pairing of Hunt’s and Nockalls’ vocals. Helped by springy rhythms, the song’s vivacious serenade gets right under the skin with a web of persuasion matched and reshaped by One Day On as it parades its own evocative lyrical and pop prowess for ears and pleasure to indulge in.
A sturdier bulk comes with The Affirmation as bass and riffs cast an imposing incitement from the off, though it still acts as an invitation rather than a demanding proposal. Within it, Hunt as ever provides an emotion seeded lyrical exploration and reflection, another aspect of band and songwriting which has only matured and blossomed over the three decades. It is a potent and increasingly compelling track but one quickly and persistently outshone by the glorious Last Days Of The Feast. Some tracks just hit the sweet spot and this is definitely one. It has all the youthful adventure and mischief which marked early Wonder Stuff songs but equally a modern snarl and imagination that hungrily hooks ears and thoughts. Physical involvement in the track is as swift as an emotional one, its place as a pinnacle of the album certain, but quickly crowded round as tracks like The Kids From The Green treats ears to further infectious proposals, this one with a perky croon with similarly spirited melodies around vocal memories.
Swarthy hues flood the funk coated Weakened next; its mix of textures and flavours another ridiculously magnetic drama and contagiousness whilst Misunderstanding Burton Heel is one of those tracks which seems to know what personal loves in a song are and provides them wholesale with a Wonder Stuff twist. Jaunty shadows cloak rhythms and emotions whilst animated melodies and racy hooks built a kinetic trap for ears and by now a very greedy appetite. The track is superb; a rock ‘n’ roll siren which, if not matched, is potently backed by the album’s title track. The final offering from 30 Goes Around The Sun, it is a slice of English Americana, a last turn in the multi-faceted aspect of the album and a highly enjoyable end to a rousing encounter.
Past successes always means high anticipation and expectation for new propositions, something The Wonder Stuff seem to easily take in their stride and with 30 Goes Around The Sun go on to create new memorable and at times momentous experiences.
30 Goes Around The Sun is released March 19th via IRL Records across most online stores.
Pete RingMaster 17/03/2016
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
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