Published On: Fri, May 14th, 2021

Paul Weller: New album Fat Pop is listenable but lacks the thrills of old | Music | Entertainment

Paul Weller feeds off his original influences – classic soul and English Mod – on his 16th studio album. Released just 11 months after On Sunset, it starts deceptively with the heavy electronica of Cosmic Fringes making the morose Modfather sound like a funkier Kraftwerk.

That’s followed by True which slams in wearing its glam rock heart on its sparkly sleeve, with a neat sax solo and Lia Metcalfe from The Mysterines as co-vocalist.

The title track Fat Pop is bass-driven, funky and slightly ominous, while Cobweb/ Connections starts with the feel of Hunky Dory-period Bowie but transforms into a heavily orchestrated meander.

The other nine tracks are more straightforward. Testify, with the great Andy Fairweather Low on co-vocals, is pure soul, sounding pleasantly like an early 70s Temptations B-side.

Shades Of Blue, co-written with his daughter Leah, is jaunty upbeat pop bereft of a killer chorus.

There’s a taste of later Motown in Moving Canvas, Glad Times sounds like a dreamier Style Council, and Failed hits a fine addictive groove.

Still Glides The Stream, co-written with his long-time guitarist Steve Cradock, closes proceedings with lush orchestration in portentous style.

With his 2020 tour postponed, Weller used lockdown to polish off partly written songs, recording at his Black Barn studio in Surrey. It’s all very classy, if not always exciting.

But then I would say that – my favourite Weller era was The Jam years when he had real fire in his belly and wrote massive hit singles. He hasn’t had even a minor hit for 11 years now.

Fat Pop is hugely listenable though, with enough decent songs to keep his army of fans happy. Just don’t mention the Tony Blair barnet.

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