Daniel Selwood puts the boot into the Modfather
TV food geek Heston Blumenthal has a trick by which he turns chocolate into something that looks like water but tastes like a cocoa confection. That’s pretty much what Weller does to other people’s music: he dilutes his beloved soul, R ‘n’ B and psychedelia, and then removes the colour while retaining some flavour of the original. And then he barks platitudes over the top – often while that prick from Ocean Colour Scene noodles away in the background.
Wake Up the Nation is a hell of a lot more energetic than its predecessor, the nightmarishly soporific 22 Dreams, but that’s the best that can be said of this latest release – that and the fact that it’s a mere 39 minutes long.
Something about his hard cock. Really.
But with 16 tracks crammed into the (mercifully short) running length, nothing lasts for enough time to grab hold of the listener. The Modfather and his muso cronies charge in, chuck around feedback, organ riffs, reverse-looped guitars, wobbly strings and epileptic drumming, and then they leg it.
It’s supposed to be smart and invigorating, but it’s just dizzying and frustrating. There’s barely enough time for the tired lyrics about lovers with long, brown hair, the “death of the post box”, and something about his hard cock. Really.
These are the chew-yer-fist-in embarrassment lyrics that prove Weller is redundant. The album’s title track is, one assumes, meant to be the sort of call to action that The Jam made in their earliest days. Alas, the man who as a teenager lustily predicted a “youth explosion” now sounds like a silly old fool as he orders the listener to “get your face out of the Facebook” [sic]. Not even the presence of My Bloody Valentine’s chief noise terrorist, Kevin Shields, provides any élan.
Since he formed The Style Council in ‘83, Weller has flirted with self-parody, and now – at nearly 52 years old – he’s a full-blown caricature of himself, with his beads and his bleached feather-cut and this indulgent mess of an album.