Paul Weller - 'Fat Pop (Volume 1)' Album Review
It is quite hard to approach reviewing a Paul Weller album without having his seminal work with the Jam in the back of your mind, which is highly unfair, Paul has proven over a number of years that he’s still a vibrant, relevant and highly talented songwriter.
'Fat Pop' feels a bit different, that little bit more experimental, that little bit more challenging and definitely a whole lot more interesting! Paul has turned into a bit of a musical magpie, picking bits and pieces from different genres and combining it into an unexpected gem of an album.
It feels like how Paul uses his voice has changed a bit, I don’t know if it’s his age, how people’s voices mature over time or deliberate but to me he sounds more like a contented man on some tracks than I thought that man who sang Eton Rifles ever could.
There is straightforward Rock, Electronica, Jazz, soulful horns and all number sounds in between. Does it work on every track? I think it does, it’s a bit like going through the dial on a radio (yes I know that sounds old fashioned) and moving between a number of different radio stations playing an array of different genres, but all sung by the same man.
Personally I loved the constant shifting of sounds and moods. It felt like Paul understands we don’t always want to listen to the same music and sometimes we need to mix things up a bit.
My favourite song on this album is 'Testify', it’s soulful with some Jazz underpinning and Rock and Roll sensibilities. I found my head bobbing along in time from the start of the song, I don’t know what Paul was aiming for with this song but I loved it. I think this is the real strength of 'Fat Pop', it will give you what you need from it, it’s open for people to take from what it what they need. It’s an eclectic collection of lyrics and playing that feels like it shouldn’t work as a whole but just does. If I had to choose my next favourite it would have to be 'Moving Canvas', it reminded me of a song Paul contributed to the War Chid Help Album project many years ago, when he was involved in a version of 'Come Together' which was one of the better songs on that album (if you don’t know the album you should get a copy, the proceeds go to an excellent cause).
Paul is touring the UK soon, I know a number of people go to the gig hoping for a Jam revival show (and if I’m honest I wouldn’t say no to that!) but I think that misses the point, when a musician is still capable of sounding this good with their new material why not just play it? Go enjoy, the man is as a good a writer, singer and musician as he’s ever been. He’s still putting out challenging, interesting, high quality music, you should listen to it!
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Review - Iain McClay