Paul Weller – Sonik Kicks (Island)

Paul Weller has been on a creative roll. His last two albums, 2008’s 22 Dreams and 2010’s Wake Up The Nation found him breathing new life into his 30-year-old career. As the title would suggest, Sonik Kicks continues on this trend. Here, he’s even more adventurous, though not quite as successful.

Co-producer Simon Dine is back and has co-written 11 of the album’s 14 tracks, along with playing some guitar (along with Weller, Steve Cradock, Noel Gallagher and Graham Coxon). But it’s Dine’s “loops and efx” that really make their mark on the album.

The record opens with Green, complete with pulsing electronica, throbbing bass and trippy guitar. “Take off”, Weller urges, and indeed, the spacey/psychedelic journey begins. Like many of the tracks, Green clocks in at just under 3 minutes, so often the tracks come across more like sound collages than fully-realized songs.

The Attic follows and barely breaks the 2 minute mark. Klang Klang threatens to revive Judy Garland’s The Trolley Song before lurching into a reggae beat. “I’ll take my chances in the grave, there’s only this moment that is now”, sings the recharged Weller.

After the pastoral By The Waters, with its acoustic guitar and fluttering strings, comes one of the album’s high points. That Dangerous Age addresses middle-age in a manner that would make Ray Davies smile.

The rest of the album bounces around from garage rock (Around The Lake) to Krautrock (Paperchase), finally landing softly with Be Happy Children, a heartfelt little lullaby to close things out.

I don’t think Sonik Kicks will go down as one of Paul Weller’s best, but it’s clear that the old geezer has still got plenty of musical curiosity and it willing to shake things up a little. That’s gotta count for something.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to That Dangerous Age from Sonik Kicks