Album Review: Stereophonics - Graffiti on the Train (2013 LP)

Welsh rock band Stereophonics are set to release eighth studio album Graffiti on the Train on March 4th. The band received mixed reviews on their previous album Keep Calm and Carry On, and it’s quite obvious that the boys are back to prove the critics wrong.

Fans were treated to a preview of the new material when the band released a free download of the dark, moody and alternative track “In a Moment”. It strays away from their usual sound with gravely vocals containing an edgier and rawer Kelly Jones. This track sets a dark tone for the album which shows the band dipping into a bluesy mind set. It can be heard on the track “Been Caught Cheating”, with an acapella vocal arrangement giving an organic and live sound quality to the track.

With heavy guitars and edgy vocals, the opening track “We Share the Same Sun” introduces the new sound the foursome have been working on. Graffiti on the Train also tracks an underlying theme of a relationship ending, and various metaphors are used to describe the disintegration of that relationship.

The band collaborated with English film composer David Arnold who arranged the strings, which can be heard strongly on the brooding track “Violins and Tambourines”.

Debut single “Indian Summer” shows another side to the album in comparison to “In a Moment”. “Indian Summer” has catchy chorus with soaring vocals giving it a very radio friendly appeal.

“Take Me” has Kelly accompanied by a female vocalist with a sweet high pitched voice. Strings add to the dark mood of the song, but it falls short of the other songs making it the weakest song on the album.

“Roll the Dice” is where the album peaks, and could definitely be the next single. It is such a gem with backing harmonies, trumpets, and an epic sounding string section.

The album closer, "No One’s Perfect”, ends on a lighter note. This track is a ballad with Jones showing his softer side.

Jones is quoted saying he would arrive at the studio with 40 unfinished ideas, instead of 10 finished ones. By doing this the songs became more unpredictable, and for that reason the band and everyone involved enjoyed the process of recording; it was something they hadn’t done before.

Stereophonics are heading in a new and fresh direction, which will excite many fans and critics. This album has something for everyone- strings, catchy choruses, heavy guitar riffs, blues guitar and Kelly Jones showcasing his strength of storytelling, creating imagery and characters in a simplistic manner.

Review Score: 8.2 out of 10

Graffiti on the Train will be released on 4th March, 2013.