There’s a new narrative emerging from Paul Weller’s career, one that supplants his Britpop fame, his parka-clad Modfather status in favour of his role as 21st century inspiration.
Listening to ‘More Modern Classics’, it’s easy to see both the truth and falsity in this statement. A solo compilation, cuts such as ‘Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea’ reveal that the songwriter’s millennial phase is perhaps not as creatively arid as critics often assume.
Beginning with his ‘Studio 150’ album in 2004, though, Weller starts to shift emphasis. Out go the target signs, and in comes a renewed inspiration from the post-punk era, adding a dry, awkwardly funky sensibility. ‘From The Floorboards Up’ is a defiant statement of intent, while ‘Echoes Round The Sun’ is a forward-thinking slice of psychedelia.
Titanic double album ’22 Dreams’ takes up the mid-section, and its sprawling burst of creativity is matched to genuine eclecticism. In the space of only a few tracks Weller shifts from acid folk troubadour to curmudgeonly punk survivor, and yet it all seems to make a strange sort of sense.
Featuring two new tracks including the single ‘Brand New Toy’, ‘More Modern Classics’ is a brave move. A compilation that eschews those classic mid-’90s cuts, Weller is redefined as a deeply modern artist, one who continually shuns his press image through being faithful to his roots.
By taking this contrarian stance, though, the iconic singer ensures that his output is almost impossibly broad. Be careful when dipping in, but if given enough time then ‘More Modern Classics’ has something for everyone’s vision of Weller.
Words: Robin Murray
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Listen to ‘More Modern Classics’ via Deezer, below…