The Stereophonics - Pull The Pin

It seems as though the Local Boys In The Photograph are ready to fade into the background. <br/>

Album Review by Finbarr Bermingham | 07 Nov 2007
  • Pull The Pin
Album title: Pull The Pin
Artist: The Stereophonics
Label: V2
Their commercial success has gone some way to postponing the interrogation. But a decade on from their excellent debut LP, Word Gets Around, the question is still looming large: what exactly are The Stereophonics? Perceptive commentators on the mundane trivialities of everyday life, or lager louts hell-bent on drunken debauchery? Their stellar first album struck a balance between the two good enough to have Kelly Jones dedicate the next ten years of his life attempting to replicate it. Bar the odd exception, it has so far eluded him. So it should come as no surprise that instead of using new album Pull The Pin to announce a return to form or even (God forbid) a new direction in his songwriting, Jones is still chasing the ghost of Billy Davey's daughter, and this time, even he sounds confused.

The bland and underwhelming opening track Soldiers Make Good Targets acts as a decent gauge for things to come, the above adjectives resonating throughout this record even more so than any earlier models. It's difficult to comment on whether Jones' voice has worsened, or even changed. One thing is certain though: it sounds old, its gravelly texture grown gradually less appealing over the years. In keeping with Pull The Pin, it sounds dated and antiquated, in the worst possible way. Instead of punctuating the rolling guitar of Soldiers…, it attempts to roll alongside them in painful fashion.

Perhaps it's due to his diminutive physical stature, or maybe his advancing years (is 33 too young for a midlife crisis?), but on Pull The Pin, Jones too often feels the need to challenge the manhood of others ("be a man – if you can" on Pass The Buck) or revel in his own (check Bank Holiday Monday for a lesson in downright awful male bravado: "Gobbin' speed like a monkey in a fuckin' zoo / get ya girl in the toilet after flirting all day"). It's a trait that again highlights the sometimes bipolar nature of his song-smithery, especially when juxtaposed with Daisy Lane, a slower track about a fatal happy-slapping attack, and one of the only successes on the album. Bewilderedly stumbling from one persona to the other (rarely convincing as either) interrupts the structure of the album whilst suggesting Jones doesn't know which hat he should be donning at any given time.

Released in the month they received a Q Award for penning a Classic Song, Pull The Pin ridicules this very bestowment whilst acting as a reminder of the sheerness of the slope they've been sliding down ever since. It seems as though the Local Boys In The Photograph might be about to fade into the background.
Pull The Pin is out now on V2.
Stereophonics play AECC in Aberdeen on 24 Nov and SECC, Glasgow on 25 Nov