Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Paul Weller - 22 Dreams (2008)
Released June 2008
Paul Weller broke the mould of several albums in a row following a sort of similar format (although nowhere near as formulaic as the accusations that have been regularly levelled suggest, to be honest) and came up with this cornucopia of an album. It is a veritable "chocolate box" of different styles, ambiences, moods and musical themes. Yes, it is also somewhat sprawling and probably goes on just a few tracks too long. A cull of just a few songs would not have harmed it particularly. Yes, it is also indulgent, but what the hell, Weller felt like it. He felt like experimenting, and does so on the album to great effect.
There are some typical-(ish) pieces of Weller mid tempo laid-back, melodic rock numbers, such as the two catchy numbers of "All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You)" and "Have You Made Up Your Mind". Also coming in to the tuneful, relaxing rock category are "Cold Moments", "Black River" and the folksily upbeat "Push It Along". All of these have irresistible hooks making them instantly singalong and they are light in lyrical atmosphere, as opposed to intense and introspective. There are some harder, grungy, industrial moments as well, such as the frantic, almost punky "22 Dreams" and the even more breakneck, raucous "Echoes Round The Sun". There are acoustically-driven, Nick Drake-esque folky bucolic numbers like "Light Nights" and the Celtic "Where'er Ye Go". "God" and "111" find Weller going just a little bit "Revolution 9", before the lively, real ale singalong of "Sea Spray" changes the ambience yet again. You can't stay still, in one mood, while listening to this album, it tosses your feelings around, as if on sea spray.
There are also, reflective, beautiful moments in "Lullaby Fur Kinder", "Invisible" and "Song For Alice". What is for certain is that a lot of the "Wild Wood"/"Stanley Road" early seventies Traffic-influenced guitar-driven rock is decidedly absent. From this album onwards, Weller became a David Bowie-style changeling, dabbling in various themes, styles and approaches from album to album, always trying to push his own boundaries.
Because of the diverse, sprawling nature of this collection of songs, it does not make for a particularly easy listen, despite the relaxing nature of some of the material. This brave album is always a challenge. Maybe that is what Weller wanted. In fact, I am sure it is.
- August 14, 2018