With their first album in over 13 years, it’s difficult to know what a long-lasting band like The Who might release. It turns out, they haven’t lost their touch.
It’s as if Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey jumped in a time machine when they produced this new album. It takes something to stay true to the original ‘Who-ish’ sound after 50 years in the game, but unlike so many others, this time they’ve managed to do so with impeccable form.
An organ slowly fades in on the opener 'All This Music Must Fade' Roger Daltrey belts out, "I don't care, I know you're gonna hate this song / With that said, we never really got along”, his voice sounding the same as it did back in their heyday.
The album’s bluesy lead single 'Ball and Chain' brings the aggressiveness. A song that packs a punch, reminiscent of the 'Who by Numbers' album era, it harbours a strong political message that takes aim at the controversies surrounding the Guantanamo Bay detention facility: "That pretty piece of Cuba / Designed to cause men pain / Whoa, when you light up in Cuba / You won't feel the same again."
Though there is no connecting narrative or theme that defines the album, each track’s individuality makes them stand out from one another further. 'Street Song' serves as a reminder to Grenfell Tower, with the story of a man who didn't manage to escape the tower, able to call his wife to say goodbye to her. 'I'll Be Back' sees Townshend take over the vocals and bring back his chromatic harmonica: a song that looks back on past times and reconnecting with people from the past.
The combination of Pete’s writing ability and Roger’s musical talent makes the songs on the album come alive; reminding audiences why The Who deserve their place at the pinnacle of rock and roll mythology.
At the latter end of the record, Roger demonstrates his vocal range with 'Rockin' In Rage', before taking listeners on a journey with the slower paced closer 'She Rocked My World', looking back on what could've been with past lovers. Even without late members Keith Moon and John Entwistle, this sounds like classic The Who. Roger Daltrey thinks the band have made their “best album since ‘Quadrophenia’”, and it's hard not to agree.
For two guys in their 70s, it's pretty impressive and if this is their last hurrah, it's surely a fitting one.
Words: Joe Hale
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