You’ve got to hand it to Paul Weller; he’s been at this since 1977 – in the recorded forum, that is – when The Jam released their debut single, “In The City”. In the ensuing 38 years, he’s been nothing short of a musical chameleon (even though he’s stayed true to his Mod roots/vision): from teen punk, to (easily) England’s finest songwriter of the modern age; to soul stylist to rock-guitar powerhouse – he’s done it all, tried it all and now at the age of 57, he still finds new ways to keep it fresh and different – certainly, different for him.
Saturns Pattern, his debut with Warner Bros. Records in the U.S. (Parlophone in the U.K.), is yet again, another leap forward for this musical crusader. Starting with “White Sky”, which begins with a deadly heavy riff after a quasi-psychedelic cacophony, Weller just leans in and ROCKS it hard. Mixed in with the guitar sludge are soundscapes that give this a “complete” feel; easily one of the most powerful things he’s ever opened any of his albums with. “Saturns Pattern” has a down-home feel with some great keyboard, roaring vocals and a very positive feel. “Going My Way” starts with a gentle piano and haunting vocal, picking up steam and passion; “Long Time” is another guitar assault, with some dirty, distorted guitars and a taut, crisp tempo and “Pick It Up” goes in a soulful direction with its Hammond foundation and a subtle, funky bass line. “I’m Where I Should Be” is stripped down with chiming, clean guitar figures and “In The Car” is built around some very tasty acoustic picking, working itself up into another aural collage of effects, rich harmonies and strong melodies.
I’ve – ahem – followed Weller’s career for 38 years; it’s been a long, sometimes bumpy but always interesting ride. And here, he once again shows how and why he’s so fucking good at what he does. And why it’s still a joy to hear what he may create next. If you go back to the last two albums, you can hear how he started exploring new paths – and why Saturns Pattern is a logical and completely fresh direction. Score another win for Paul Weller.
Saturns Pattern is available now
Paul Weller on tour in the U.S.:
June 9: Washington D.C. — 9.30 Club
June 10: Philadelphia, Pa. — Union Transfer
June 12: New York, N.Y. — Terminal 5
June 13: Boston, Mass. — Paradise Rock Club
June 14: Albany, N.Y. — Upstate Music Hall
June 15: Toronto — Danforth Music Hall
June 17: Chicago, Ill. — Vic Theatre
June 18: Indianapolis, Ind. — The Vogue
June 19: Pittsburgh, Pa. — Mr Smalls Theatre
June 20: Brooklyn, N.Y. — Music Hall of Williamsburg