Stereophonics : Just Enough Education To Perform
'Just Enough Education To Perform'? Hey, I'd learn to lighten up feller.
Their third LP. Songwriting low on insight, high on moaning
A mate of mine sometimes dresses up like Eddie Izzard, gets up on stage and says things like: “Have you ever noticed, when you’ve finished the washing up and you’re pouring away the water, there’s always a teaspoon left in the bowl? What’s all that about, then?” The subtext being: you could drive a fucking truck between most observational comedy and true insight. And he gets a lot of laughs.
Kelly Jones reminds me of my mate. Without the laughs, of course. Our Kel takes this observational lark dead seriously. On his new album, the ominously titled ‘Just Enough Education To Perform’, he descends from the mount to enrich our lives with such tablets of wisdom as: cabbies are moaning bastards. Oh, and if you go on holiday in Britain in June, it sometimes rains. And y’know when you’re really high up? Well, sometimes you feel the urge to jump. And all that tourism schtick they’re always trying to sell you? It’s really just a way of filling the gaping void in your own personality by clocking something of cultural import. I mean, wow! No, I [I]really[/I] mean DUH!
‘JEEP’ is dour stuff, it really
is. And pretty smug when you come to think about it. The inference behind this album, which comes with an industrial catering size pack of microwave chips on its shoulder, is that the songwriter is a darn sight cleverer than most of us plebs for spotting these gleaming nuggets of truth within the bric-a-brac that passes for our daily lives. The trouble
is – and this is the thing that
drags ‘JEEP’ down – if Mr Jones really was possessed of any real insight, he’d realise that, rather than being too dumb or blind to spot the supposed profundities that parade themselves hidden in front of our very noses, we actually see them all too clearly thanks very much. It’s just that we actively seek to escape them. Hence the boozer. Hence drugs. Hence entertainment. Hence rock’n’roll.
Unfortunately Mr Jones seems to have missed the basic fact that most of us use our music to be elevated, transported, removed from our daily lives into a place of fun and fantasy. Stereophonics, on the other hand, never trade in excess or surplus or lies or dreams or visions or mystery or anything out of the ordinary because Mr Jones has other things on his mind and has employed mundanity and joylessness as cyphers for “telling the truth”.
Sadly, all this keeping it real is making life pretty damn drab for the rest of us. And so ‘JEEP’, mired in in the traditions of what Mr Jones considers ‘real’ music, is never extreme enough to satisfy. The single, ‘Mr Writer’, is a vaguely funky whinge instead of a raging outburst, ‘Nice To Be Out’ is Nirvana-lite, Cobain’s self-pitying anger filtered into dribbling moan while ‘Everyday I Think Of Money’ is an episode of [I]The Sopranos [/I]written by that middle-England wanker David Baddiel.
‘Just Enough Education To Perform’? Hey, I’d learn to lighten up feller.