Paul Weller - Saturns Pattern

by Nathan Fidler Rating:6.5 Release Date:2015-05-18

Paul Weller has defied all odds by continuing to develop and modify his sound over the years, resisting all urges to reform his previous bands. Although his live shows offer a smattering of his old material, on his albums he forges forward and doesn’t let age get the better of him.

There is nothing to suggest that Saturn’s Pattern is going to be a classic, but Weller’s voice is as strong as ever. He proves this on opening ‘White Sky’ as a snarling riff plays the backdrop to a sprawling thumper. As if to show that he’s not only relevant but also that he’s lived through many musical changes, he draws from a deep well of musical styles, throwing blues, jazz, and some avant garde sounds into the mix.

‘In the Car...’ begins like any ordinary acoustic song but sidesteps, throwing in a distracting piano before bursting out in an almost bluegrass stop. Whistling UFO sounds, soaring melodies, and a great deal of restraint show just how accomplished Weller is.

He hasn’t ditched the piano number, playing from a genuine heart and swinging the song along with a carefree “a-dooby-doo” on ‘Going My Way’. Keeping some of Sonik Kicks has paid off for him, bringing a little bit of electronic fizzle into his game, just enough to stop ‘I’m Where I Should Be’ from sounding geriatric.

‘These Streets’, as an eight-minute closer, lingers a little too long, feeling filled out, but ‘Saturn’s Pattern’ is the real showpiece. With both the energy and the soul we know Weller can draw from, he propels his mind into the cosmos to ponder life. At times you can hardly hear yourself think over the roaring of guitars, whizzing of sonic noise, and blaring of trumpets, but it adds to the atmosphere, with Weller strutting his stuff to let you know he’s still alive and as hungry as ever.

With such a string of successful solo albums, he has to be one of the strongest living legends in British music right now. He’s outstripped others who play it safe and who pander to their old fanbase (looking at you Noel Gallagher).

Here, he’s dipping into an otherworldly adventure, no clearer than on ‘Phoenix’. However, it does feel like he’s missing a cause to fight against other than people’s perception of his age. While this is a rousing effort, you can’t help but think it might just be improved with more meat between his teeth, something which he’s long missed. “The birds and the bees/ they find it” doesn’t quite feel like the railing punkish attitude which makes his best songs so enduring.

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