NBHAP Rating: 2,5/5
[one_half last=”yes”]PAUL WELLER
01. White Sky
02. Saturn’s Pattern
03. Going My Way
04. Long Time
05. Pick It Up
06. I’m Where I Should Be
08. In The Car…
09. These City Streets
For a veteran, much-loved artist like PAUL WELLER approaching a new album can pose a little bit of a dilemma. Someone in WELLER’s position has to produce a piece of work that varies enough from the music that made them famous to avoid accusations of going stale, while simultaneously retaining enough of that work to keep their traditional fanbase onside. Weller has tackled this problem with varying levels of success across several albums since THE STYLE COUNCIL broke up in 1989, and now we come to his latest effort, Saturn’s Pattern.
Opener White Sky’s growling riffs and barked vocals indicates that WELLER has been listening to JACK WHITE, while Long Time’s space-age rock evokes memories of DAVID BOWIE’s Spiders From Mars. Phoenix sets the tone for much of the album, with its slick jazz-rock combined with occasional forays into warped experimentation. For the most part, Saturn’s Pattern sounds like a mix of late-BEATLES psychedelia and a more conservative GORILLAZ, grabbing some of that band’s use of distortion and electronics while steering clear of any of their hip-hop or dance tendencies.
Slight and unmemorable
Saturn’s Pattern’s main problem is that personality and originality drain away from WELLER whenever he tries to experiment in styles, and simply slipping a bit of a psych wig-out into the middle-eight of his songs isn’t really enough of a distinguishing, fresh feature. So while we can acknowledge that it’s commendable that he tries to work new sounds into his work, he still doesn’t really achieve anything beyond a decent impression of the music he’s inspired by. You can always just listen to the original artists pull off the sounds WELLER is pitching for, better than he does. Which would normally be fine. After all, if breaking no new ground was a major musical crime we would have to discount ninety percent of all albums released. However, with a few exceptions like pretty, soulful-jazz closer These City Streets, the songs on Saturn’s Pattern come across as slight and unmemorable. We don’t need WELLER to reinvent the wheel, but it would be nice if he had focussed on good song-writing and produced an album we really want to listen to.
Saturn’s Pattern shows an admirable willingness on PAUL WELLER’s part to explore new territory, but the quality of the songs themselves isn’t what it needs to be. This record fails to break new ground, but more significantly, fails to produce more than a few memorable songs.