By: Bob Boilen
May 23, 2010
When The Jam was making pop-infused music in the heyday of punk, Paul Weller was a vital singer and songwriter. But in the years since, fans would be forgiven for losing interest, as his work in Style Council made way for a string of often spotty solo records. But Weller’s new one, Wake Up the Nation, is a real sleeper — and, in the end, a joy to hear. The album will stream here in its entirety until its release on June 1.
To be honest, Wake Up the Nation didn’t fully capture my imagination until about a quarter of the way in, when it really takes off. “Andromeda,” for example, is a psychedelic affair that conjures memories of The Move at its best; the song falls apart and pulls itself back together with an inspired chorus and impeccable guitar line. From there, Wake Up the Nation is off on an aural adventure — a kind of time-traveling expedition back to 1966, when experimentation equaled fun and not some sort of intellectual exercise.
Wake Up the Nation finds Weller again collaborating with his old Jam bandmate, Bruce Foxton. Both had recently lost loved ones, and used the experience as inspiration to get together again — with help from My Bloody Valentine guitarist Kevin Shields (in “7 & 3 Is the Striker’s Name”), among others.