V2 - 2001 - 45 minutes

Listening to this you get the feeling that the Stereophonics will never have to make a difficult album. They just seem too grounded, too 'here are our songs, people like them and sing along' to contemplate career sabotage or a change in direction. They know they're a rock band, not world saviours and even this album's title seems to tip a hat to the theory that anyone with a bit of heart can do what they do. Some hate them for it, others won't hear a word said against them. 'JEEP' won't change anyone's opinion either way.

Written and recorded during and after the success of 1999's 'Performance and Cocktails', 'JEEP' is more like a comfortable filler album than a serious stab at a follow up. It sounds like it was made without the benefit of hindsight - not rushed, but not ready either. You may get frontman Kelly Jones' best assault on the charts to date ('Have a Nice Day') but there's also the decidedly lower league rock bluster of 'Las Vegas Two Times' and 'Rooftop' to sit through in between. It features a rather poor 'our demo got a bad review' slice of invective called 'Mr Writer' but cheers you up with unashamed sentimentality of 'Step on My Old Size Nines' and that pattern of good vs average continues across the entire 45 minute running time. As album number three fades out, you figure that you've liked roughly half of it but wouldn't be too upset if you never heard the rest again.

The overall impression is of an outfit comfortable with fame, not haunted by it - 'JEEP's no classic but will sell by the ferryload. You do get the feeling however, that Kelly Jones has better in him. Maybe he'll take an extra year next time around to prove it.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Vegas Two Times - Lying in the Sun - Mr Writer - Step on My Old Size Nines - Have a Nice Day - Nice to Be Out - Watch Them Fly Sundays - Everyday I Think of Money - Maybe - Caravan Holiday - Rooftop