Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Paul Weller - Heliocentric (2000)


Released April 2000

Recorded at Black Barn Studios

This was very much seen as an album where Paul Weller was supposedly ‘treading water” or the he had “lost his muse” or whatever. Released in 2000, he had not put out an album since 1997’s “Heavy Soul” and people were beginning to think that maybe his renaissance as a solo artist begun in the mid 90s had ground to a halt. It is a shame that this album gets overlooked because of that perceived wisdom. It is quite an experimental piece of work, to be honest. Weller’s use of lush, dominating string orchestration for the first time is both brave and inventive. Indeed, he played several gigs around this time that utilised a large backing orchestra and they are excellent, giving a real enhancement to some of his more beautiful, melodic songs.


1. He's The Keeper
2. Frightened
3. Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea
4. A Whale's Tail
5. Back In The Fire
6. Dust And Rocks
7. There's No Drinking After You're Dead
8. With Time And Temperance
9. Picking Up Sticks
10. Love-Less

The album begins, however, with the comparatively unimaginative and industrial “He’s The Keeper”, which harks back to some of the late sixties Traffic-influenced extended rock numbers on 1994’s “Wild Wood”. The ambience soon changes, though, with the Beatles-ish soul rock of “Frightened” and loved-up folkiness of “Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea”. This was Weller at his most unashamedly disarming and romantic. Another notable thing about this album was that Weller did, indeed, seem more than a little world-weary at times, in his lyrics. There is a cynicism to them, particularly with some references the music industry. The allegorical “A Whale’s Tail” has Weller in a almost Van Morrison-esque mode of negativity towards those who affected his professional life. The musically dreamy and trippy “Back In The Fire” is even more cynical in its content, but the sumptuous bass line sort of disguises it.

The folky, reflective and mournful “Dust And Rocks” features some beautiful, sweeping string orchestration as indeed does the similarly tender “With Time And Temperance”. “There’s No Drinking After You’re Dead” is, however, an insistent, pounding upbeat number, and again, its lyrically are less than positive, shall we say.

“Picking Up Sticks” is wistfully entrancing and the album’s closer, “Love-Less” is a most attractive, chilled out acoustic number to end what was a largely very understated album musically, but one that expressed some strong opinions over an inventive, often stimulating backing. Instead of listening to “Stanley Road” or “Wild Wood” again, if you want to dip into some turn of the millennium Paul Weller, why not give this a try.


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