V2 – 2005 – 43 minutes
When Robbie Williams emerged from the boyband bubble of Take That promising to be the wild child to Gary Barlow's, well, Barry Manilow, his first self-penned hit was the energetic but hardly rebellious 'Old Before I Die'.
This track made clear Mr Williams' intention to stay away from the rock ethic of live fast die young, and since then he has been largely faithful to his word. Indeed, to him getting fat and holding down a residency at a Las Vegas casino is probably the height of middle-aged sophistication for a singer and not a somewhat pathetic end to a rock n' roll career.
It was around the time of that track that The Stereophonics blasted open the Brit rock scene with 'Local Boy In The Photograph' from their debut ‘Word Gets Around’. This was soon followed by more cracking singles from their next album, ‘Performance and Cocktails’, which also came with some cracking videos.
The boys went to Vietnam and played like they were a new addition to the 'Apocalypse Now' soundtrack for ‘The Bartender and the Thief’, and made a 1990s tribute to the Italian Job by driving around in four coloured Minis for 'Pick A Part That’s New’. Nobody believed that Catalonia were going to make it cool to be Welsh, but these guys had a more convincing case.
Since then, these promising young rockers have descended into dad rock, and with this latest opus you could say they've gone one step further down into crock rock.
'Language. Sex. Violence. Other?' is simply awful. The guitars plod where they once bounced, and Kelly Jones' lyrics are as literal and clumsy as ever. 'Doorman' is a song about a bouncer, while 'Girl' is, well, you get the idea.
It's easy to see why lead single 'Dakota' was greeted with a moderate measure of fanfare a few weeks ago, as it's the only song on here that has anything resembling a pulse. Jones sings a simple song remembering what it was like to be a teenager that sounds more like the 'Phonics of old.
'Dakota' also features more musical invention than the rest of the record combined, which isn't much at all. Most of the tracks sound very similar, and there's only so much mid tempo electric guitar and goading, bleating vocals a listener can stand.
It seems it's up to US rock bands to provide the best Brit rock these days – if you have already got The Killers' 'Hot Fuss', why not take your chances with The Bravery's debut, and leave these Welsh crock rockers mired in MOR-land with country mates The Manic Street Preachers.
Tracklisting: Superman – Doorman – Brother – Devil – Dakota – Rewind – Pedalpusher – Girl – Lolita – Deadhead – Feel