Stereophonics is trying to make it big with its second album, Performance and Cocktails (V2). Sadly, though, this album doesn’t quite match up with those of its British predecessors.
Stereophonics often is compared to the Manic Street Preachers. Both bands are Welsh, and both are hard rock. But comparing the two is like comparing Limp Bizkit to the Rolling Stones. Stereophonics is enjoyable, but it is not going into the record books.
The album starts with “Roll Up And Shine,” which has to be one of the worst songs to begin an album. It’s a grating, whiny piece that almost makes you want to take the CD out of the player and use it as a coaster. Once you get past it, the rest of the album has some highlights.
Singer Kelly Jones’ voice is one of those sounds you’ll either love or hate. On the fast-paced songs that make up much of the album, he sings as if he’s trying to pass a large kidney stone. The music itself isn’t bad. Stereophonics ultimately sounds like an above average bar-band. The band members have musical skills, but they’re lacking in talent. And it’s absence of talent that makes this a second-rate album.
A few songs will catch your ear. “The Bartender and the Thief” and the ballad “Hurry Up and Wait” could make you think twice about writing off the band, but the rest of the tracks just pass in a stereotypical hard-rock blur.
Although Jones’ songwriting ability was hailed by a few different critics, they are giving him too much credit. He writes about lower-class life, but many other Brit-pop singers, such as Jarvis Cocker of Pulp and Brett Anderson of Suede, have covered the same ground better.
The best way to sum up Stereophonics and Performance and Cocktails is that it’s all been done before, and done better. Performance and Cocktails isn’t awful, but it’s destined to be one of those you listen to now and leave at the bottom of your stack of CDs later.