Album Review: Stereophonics - Kind

Despite listening to the album twice, this is proving to be a tough review to write. When an album is good, you can praise it. When an album is bad, you can criticise it. But what can you say when an album is neither? Because that's exactly what Kind is - neither good nor bad.

With Kind, Stereophonics appear to have slipped into the stage of their career where they release albums because they can, to try and keep some sort of relevance in the modern music scene when, in reality, their best days are far behind them (though in fairness, it did hit #1 in the UK). The result is an album which offers little in the way of creativity, perhaps making it best as an album to put on if you just want some background noise as you go about your daily routine.

There are moments of promise. The opening track, 'I Just Wanted the Goods', improves as it goes along and showcases some excellent guitar work that, unfortunately, isn't utilised enough throughout the album. The single 'Fly Like an Eagle' has a late 1970's American rock vibe, and will certainly prove to be a great singalong at concerts.'This Life Ain't Easy' is a simple but effective song, and 'Don't Let the Devil Take Another Day' is a bright spark.

Credit: Andrew Whitton

However, it is generally a sluggish album, with the biggest problem lying in the pace of the songs. Though the album is only 42 minutes long, the constant stream of slow songs that last about five minutes each make it feel so much longer, particularly during the first half of the album. 'Make Friends With The Morning' just adds instruments as it goes, which cannot mask the fact that it's repetitive and goes nowhere. That's the third track and by track 5 ('Hungover For You') there's a distinct lack of variety in the songs. It's a dull mid-album slump which continues until track 6, 'Bust This Town', a genuinely good song that brings a much-needed injection of energy and pace to the album - if you get that far. It's no wonder that it became the 2nd single.

The latter half of the album is the slightly stronger half, aided by shorter, sweeter songs which come as a pleasant, if unspectacular, surprise. 'Street of Orange Light' and 'Restless Mind' are decent, with the fingerpicked acoustic guitars on each bringing a campfire vibe to the album. They could be two halves of the same song.

Nevertheless, despite the slight upgrade in quality, there is a lingering feeling of disappointment as it closes, a yearning for the Stereophonics of old. There's no 'Dakota' on here, no 'Maybe Tomorrow'. None of it even comes close. Kelly almost sounds bored, and it drags you down. Nothing is gained from listening to this album except a hunger for better.

It would be harsh to call it bad, as it is perfectly serviceable. But Kind unfortunately showcases a band devoid of ideas, existing for the sake of existence. There is little excitement to be found, with plenty of dregs that are stuck in the middle-of-the-road territory. Kelly and co. are too comfortable, with no desire to push themselves. It's not bad - it's just disappointing.