Album review: Paul Weller, Sonik Kicks

Paul Weller’s headlong plunge into the Krautrock psychedelic pool emboldens his 13th solo outing, freeing it from English pastoral pretension. But is hardly the dominant force on this dizzy and dense record.

He still summons the spirit of Stevie Winwood getting it together in the country with Island founder Chris Blackwell all those years ago, but Sonik Kicks is oh so moderne. There’s still a smattering of straight-up rockers – the self-mocking A Dangerous Age, or the suggestive throbbing of Paperchase, which strangely recalls T Rex’s Slider. But the textural richness and diversity of the music is what makes this Weller’s Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake.

His instinctive sense of melody holds it all together, simplifying the complexity of When Your Garden’s Overgrown into a digestible pop song, and keeping things interesting throughout the experimentation of Around The Lake and Drifters. The most memorable tracks are his homage to Curtis Mayfield, the confident and caring Be Happy Children – on which Weller’s effortlessly blue-eyed soul singing is augmented by his daughter Leah’s crystal clear vocal – and the reggae inspired Study In Blue.

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He may now be the kind of perma-tanned old guard against whom he once railed, but they were not making records with balls this big back then. This is a proper grown up record of which he is rightly proud, light years from punk rock but cut from the same cloth.

Paul Weller

Sonik Kicks

Island £12.99

Rating: ****

COLIN SOMERVILLE

• Download this: Study In Blue, Be Happy Children