Most songwriters and artists tend to slow down as they get older. From 1980-1989, Iron Maiden released seven albums, five of those from 1980-1984. From 2010-2019, however, the veteran metal band released just two. It's not a criticism; rather, it's an observation, and an understandable one too.
Paul Weller, however, is certainly an exception. Despite only embarking upon his solo career in 1992, he has just released his 15th record as a solo artist. That's 15 records in under 30 years, which isn't bad going for a man who started this section of his career at 34. This impressive tally has also been met with consistent acclaim, and there can be no doubt that Weller will go down as one of the most prolific and successful songwriters the UK has ever produced.
His latest effort is no exception either. A varied record featuring both short, mainstream tracks and more elaborate and progressive efforts, he shows once again that the diversity of his writing abilities is his biggest strength. Longer songs such as 'Mirror Ball' and the title track 'On Sunset' certainly stand out as highlights, though length isn't necessary, as is proved by the likes of excellent 'Walkin'' and 'Earth Beat'.
True, it's not quite Weller's best work, and a few songs should feel lucky to have made it onto the track list. 'Baptiste', for example, is a bland stroll that feels like it's hiding behind the huge and inventive epic 'Mirror Ball', and 'Equanimity' may as well be titled 'Anonymity' for the mark it makes. There's an air of coasting about these songs and they're certainly ones for the fillers list.
The rest of the album, though, is classic Weller. At times, it undeniably sounds like he's a little stuck in the past in terms of style, but the quality of Weller's songwriting outshines that tenfold. 'More', the album's other lengthy track, stands tall, and 'Rockets' is an excellent closer for an album which often shows why Weller is up there with the greats of music.
On Sunset may not quite be Weller's magnum opus, but it will do more than enough to satisfy his fans. Distinctive and inspired, Weller's constant activity seems to stoke his fire of creativity, rather than burn it out. Not many can reach their 60s and still show such a lust for writing, but Weller seems determined to keep going. This as much a benefit to us as it is to him, as more Paul Weller music can only be a good thing. There should be an album before long, and we're already looking forward to it.