Paul Weller - Wake Up The Nation
The Modfather that is the mighty Paul Weller is no stranger to new musical paths, with none thankfully leading him down a dead-end so far. With his previous album 22 Dreams receiving much acclaim and a handy mantlepiece trophy in the form of a Brit Award, the question needs to be asked whether there is anything that this man cannot do? His career has spanned nearly four decades, featuring countless episodes of musical shapeshifting that makes you wonder if he’s got his own Transmogrifier. His latest reincarnation comes in the form of Wake Up The Nation, his tenth studio album that sees him reunited, well, at least on a couple of tracks, with The Jam’s original bassist, Bruce Foxton. The result is a record that maintains the earthy, irresistible tones of Weller rock but this time with added amounts of oh-so-good break-it-down beats that even makes your Grandma want to do the funky chicken.
The sixteen tracks journey around the musical world in a gap-year fashion, delighting themselves with all the tastes and flavours that rock can offer whilst using Weller’s wordy charm to act as the guide. Mild Middle-Eastern inspirations are on display in the form of snake charmer’s flutes and rhythmic drums in tracks such as ‘7&3 is the Strikers Name’ and ‘Pieces of a Dream’, both doused in exotic audio spices whilst still energised with iconic Weller semiotics.
This heightened pulse solidly flows through the veins of Wake Up The Nation, with opening track ‘Moonshine’ acting like some sort of musical defibrillator, waking up the guitars and pumping the beat of middle-aged rebellion straight into your noggin. The piano in this track takes the floor and rips it up like Jools Holland on Hootenanny, reappearing again complete with jazz hands in ‘Fast Car / Slow Traffic’, sending your feet into tapping overload.
‘Up the Dosage’ and ‘Trees’ feature an amalgamation of different styles, almost like dipping your ears into a time-machine. The latter acts as an audio montage of music’s past including a riff not misplaced on an early Who record, with a heavy yet rhythmic bass pasted onto thrusting electric guitars and harmonic raw vocals. The former extends the sixties feel, diluting the now echoed vocals and hurling a wave of drums and thudding bass through the speakers.
Needless to say, the album doesn’t disappoint in any shape or form. Mr Paul Weller has certainly proved that he can weather any storm with the use of his musical ammunition, blowing the waves straight out of the water. There’s certainly no sign that the old steam train has run out of coal. If anything, it seems he's bought a stock share in fuel and is travelling full steam ahead.