10 April 2016

The Wonder Stuff - 30 Goes Around The Sun

So we are still working our way through the albums that were released, now it is for the legends that are The Wonder Stuff.  Originally formed in 1986 till 1994, reforming in 2000 and continuing with the loss of original members along the way.  At present, the band consist of Miles Hunt, Tony Arthy, Dan Donnelly, Erica Nockalls and Mark McCarthy and this is their 8th studio album.  I love that the ‘Stuffies are still going, even though I was pretty late to the party when they first came about.  The first album I purchased was ‘Construction for the Modern Idiot’ which is still my favourite album, I love all of their work and I was very excited to hear that this album was being made.  Will it be as good as the rest of their work?  Well, let us see…...

The first track is called “Intro” which does what it says on the tin – with a little radio static, fast acoustic guitars and a lovely violin over the top of the music, it folds nicely into the first song of the album called “Don’t You Ever” which fits seamlessly into the band’s back catalogue without any problems.  It has a great energy about it as the ‘Stuffies here, the lyrics have a reflective nature and Milo sounds as if he is singing for his life at this point.  It is a fantastic opening to this album which will make fans old and new jump around with a level of excitement that may indicate that they have been (to use a term regarding horses) treat to some gingering.  “In Clover” starts with an earnest kind of tone, the feeling that the energy of the song is going to take the listener on a little bit of a journey.  The notes about the song hint that it is about the strangeness of being in a band, being the focus of someone’s dreams, hopes and aspiration.  The music is very driven, full of experience and a bucket load of talent which you know the band have; there is no catch to these words, I really love this song with its reflective tone and the sincere nature of the words and music.  “For The Broken Hearted” is a song that seems to be about when things come to a head and the genie can no longer be put back in the bottle.  It is another song which is currently high on my playlist and not just because I am currently reviewing it, whenever it is on the sun seems to come out (as it is presently shining on me as I type this) and even with the anger in the words, you cannot help but come out smiling at the end of the song and wanting to press repeat.

“Good Deeds & Highs” is a song which is dedicated to Laura and Lily, it is a slow song which will have hidden meanings that are exclusively for the two people who are named above.  Everything is toned down on this song, it has the subtlest of touches to bring the slight pause to the energetic movement that has been the main tone of this album.  It is still full of life, maybe even full of love – but it is a number that continues the good form from the start of this album.  “One Day On (So Far Away)” which continues the reflective section of this album, this time it is about loves long gone, lessons learnt and the attention span that is sometimes a little too short.  The song reminds me of their ‘Construction for the Modern Idiot’ period, especially “Full of Life (Happy Now)” as it could be the natural twin to the song (at least it could be for me).  The song has a gentle beginning, but the build up towards the chorus is so simple, so honest that it is difficult not to be impressed and thankful in a way the likes of X Factor and their ilk have not stolen it – otherwise they would ruin that as well.  The subtle nature of the song is beautiful, the tune is almost fragile in places and tough as they come in others – another instant classic for the ‘Stuffies with this one.  “The Affirmation” follows on, it is the first song to have been wrote for the album and according to Mr Hunt it is full of influences, the songwriters and musicians who helped him become the writer he is today.  It feels like it is cut from the same cloth as “In Clover”, it has a great riff, beautiful violin, great drumming and subtle bass that all combine to make of the highlights of the album.  It makes the years fall away and achieves the same excitement I had when I first discovered the band.  “Last Days of the Feast” is a politically charged beast of a song, all about the hopeful end of the current Conservative government.  It was composed before the last general election and sadly for the general masses, the sneaky weasels are still in power (yes, I am not a tory support; I remember what they have done to the country over the years, bastards).  The song is a decent one, a good tune which carries one of the most important message of the record for me and it brings a smile to my face with every spin.

“The Kids from the Green” is a reflective song about the kids that Miles Hunt grew up, he writes in the lyrics that the kids would mercilessly take the piss out of him for writing such a sentimental piece.  It is the song that sadly falls in the category of least favourite of the album, but that does not mean I do not like the song – it is just there is always going to be numbers you prefer more than others.  However, the tune is good, the sentiment is well placed and he is probably right that he would get the piss took out of him, but they might secretly like the fact that he has made a song about them.  “Weakened” is a song about relationships that are failing apart, the lies & hurt which come from this sort of situation.  It has a harder, darker tone at its core compared to other songs on the album, with a sense of passion and honesty that people sometimes need when they are being duck eggs.  I really love the sound of this song, with the wah wah peddle working a lot, the harsh tone of the song and the passionate delivery of the lyrics.  This is a song which some people might skip, but for me it is one of the best moments of the album due to the honesty that is coursing through its veins.  The penultimate song of the album is called “Misunderstanding Burton Heel” is a story about Burton Heel, a man in his forties and looking for his place in the world.  I totally get this song and why Miles Hunt wrote it – writing about a character is a liberating experience at time and can give the write a mirror to reflect some of his own personality and a way to express themselves through a different voice.  This song perfectly formed and it will make fans of the band excited to hear them in such fine form once again.  Sadly, all good thing must come to an end, it is the way of album that they have a final track to end the album – the last song of this album is the title track “30 Goes Around the Sun”.  This is a song from Miles Snr to Mile Jr as he wishes his younger self knew that it was all about the ride, never about the destination of where the band was heading.  It does not have any sense of regret, it is still looking forward as well and you get the feeling that there is plenty more to come from the band.  The music is as beautiful as anything else on the album, giving this record a final and brilliant moment at the very end.

I really like this album, there is not a single song I have not enjoyed or would not return to either.  It is full of reflections and hope, dreams of the future, memories of the past and the sense that there is still plenty left in the tank for this band.  Is it as good as their back catalogue?  Yes, I think it is equal to many of their albums and will work its way into the hearts of every fan of the band and there is no hidden if’s or but’s to this statement.  I would love it if the band got some major media exposure with this album, but the music press seems to be focused on manufactured shite sadly.  But they still managed to dent the top 40 and their last UK tour was a success as well from all accounts – so why are you still reading this, if you have not purchased the album then do it now!!!! It will be the best purchase you have done this year.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - Don't You Ever

You can purchase 30 Goes Around the Sun from Amazon here.

You can visit the Wonder Stuff website here (which also has a webstore were you can purchase the album - he hinted).

You can follow the activities of The Wonder Stuff on Facebook here.

At the time of writing, 30 Goes Around the Sun is not available on streaming sites; but you should purchase it anyway.

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