Musical maturity—that is what Stereophonics worthily embraced this year when they released their eighth and newest album Graffiti on the Train March 4. But why now? Evidently because of recent decisions regarding musical direction and band chemistry. This is the first album that has been autonomously produced by Kelly Jones (lead singer) and Jim Lowe (established producer and music engineer) and the record label is one the band created: Stylus Records.
The childhood stage of the band were known as the “Tragic Love Company,” where experiments were tinkered with live to gain more experience, leading to the sound Stereophonics made their own years later. Shortly after the band formed we received World Gets Around, J.E.E.P, Performance and Cocktails, You Gotta Go There to Come Back (the teenage years) leading into a period where the band was sparked a glimpse of what could be perceived as an tangible identity. However, it wasn’t until Language. Sex. Violence. Other? where conceptually and musically the band became a full-fledged young adult – a combination of interconnected songs, heavy influence of poetry and alternative rock, plus the one word titles showed us the promise of what a great band they were becoming.
Yet, it is in the release of their eighth studio album where we see what will continue to be the most important asset and ingredient for one of the bands that has kept rock alive: independence. It was after four years without releasing a new album and one of those without a tour where the Magna Opus of Kelly Jones’ songwriting skills, love for film and musicality comes to life in full. In Stereophonics’ history, it is the third time they’ve changed drummers – this time to the newcomer Jamie Morrison. Previous drummer Stuart Cable passed away and this year Javier Weyler left to become “Capitán Melao” in his new project Lágrim.
Conceptually, the album has an oil painting by Stephen Goddard which embraces the next idea; according to the band’s frontman Kelly Jones, this record and the next one will be the soundtrack for the movie project that Kelly is developing which could be seen as a combination of both Stand By Me and Quadrophenia with a plot that revolves around graffiti on a train, an abstraction that helped for the cover of the album and one of the songs.
I must say that – by seeing the three videos that have been released so far of the album, Jones has a manifestation in his talent for direction. Revolving around the ideas for his film, the videos are really pieces of short films that are connected to the songs and the stories that are told by the lyrics.
My five most recommended songs are the ideal-connection that is drawn by “We Share the Same Sun;” the metaphoric-love story from “Indian Summer;” the classic-British-rock reminiscent “Catacomb;” the instrumental and soulful story of “Violins and Tambourines;” and the experimentally woven “In A Moment.”
If you’re searching for the next great rock album of 2013, look no further, here it is.