Paul Weller: On Sunset (Verve Forecast) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, September 30th, 2020  

Paul Weller

On Sunset

Verve Forecast

Jul 01, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


For nearly half a century, Paul Weller has been immersed in Britain’s music biz, and the breadth of those decades of experience are nearly as vast as the title of his 15th solo album, On Sunset. Be it the violin-laced glam rock of the early 70s before forming The Jam, the blue-eyed soul he sang as part of The Style Council in the 80s, or the raw and esoteric pop rock of his solo career in the 90s, every facet of Weller is encapsulated in this richly detailed LP. 

Take early half-track “On Sunset. Calling it experimental or eclectic would be an understatement—instead, Weller stuffs the song’s seams with a myriad of genre elements. Purring, robotic synths contrast the low, lumbering rock of the rhythm section, before hand-tapped drums rattle and resound. Weller unlocks each sonic shift like opening up a Russian Doll, deftly capturing the listener’s attention and leaving them eagerly awaiting the next twist.

Not all of On Sunset’s songs are so varied, but the sounds between the tracks certainly transition quickly. Lead single “Earth Beat” harkens back to Weller’s 80s second act, thanks to its stadium-sized guitar and fuzzy, outsized synths. However, a smoldering escalation of tempo and volume gives the song unexpected artisan textures. Those elements differentiate the record from the standard easy-listening fair that Weller isn’t merely competing with, but is clearly trying to blast past. The same can be said for “Village,” whose smoothly crafted bridge and harmlessly hummable chorus would make Elton John or Rod Stewart jealous as they strived for AM radio stardom in the 90s. The fact that Weller is unafraid to revel in the confines of this genre, despite its lack of trendiness today, makes “Village” all the more fun to listen to. 

Blues and gospel are also ripe for Weller’s picking on the swaggering “Baptiste,” and a glam rock legend of his youth, Jim Lea of Slade, plays violin on Equanimity. The latter tune is less glammy than straight up gypsy folk, of all things, but its Tom-Waits-meets-Rod-Stewart vibes make for a unique mix of artsy accessibility. Weller diehards, however, will be all the more impressed by his reunion with former Style Council partner Mick Talbot, who deliciously lathers a trio of tracks with his one-of-a-kind Hammond organ sound. 

If there’s one thing On Sunset doesn’t evoke, its the twilight of a career. Weller the elder statesman sounds more invigorated than ever as he cheekily tries every musical trick under the sun. (www.paulweller.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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