Paul Weller – Wake Up the Nation (Island) 19/04/2010
April 23, 2010 by Dan Nelson
When most artists get to a certain age they no longer produce the energetic material they produced in their prime. It is usually the norm to put out an acoustic album or alternatively an album of covers – Paul Weller is the exception to this rule.
Since the disbandment of his former bands, The Style Council and most notably The Jam, he has not showed any signs of slowing down. Apart from his misconceived ‘Studio 150’, Paul Weller’s own album of covers, which leaves a negative impression of an otherwise talented artist, a large amount of his solo releases have been at a very high standard and some of his later material has more than matched the output of his former glories.
His musical influence has also spawned various copyists, who are in awe of the Modfather and have taken on the mod-rock style Weller pioneered, step forward The Enemy. Having recently been awarded the prestigious Godlike Genius award by the NME at the ripe old age of 50, it seems there is no time like the present to put out a new LP.
True to form, Weller doesn’t disappoint. Heading off the album with the upbeat jazzy stomp of ‘Moonshine’, Wake Up the Nation begins in celebratory style. The rousing call to arms of title track ‘Wake up the Nation’ continues the trend and showcases Weller at his sonic best. The Soul-Pop of ’No Tears to Cry’ and ‘Aim High’ clearly take their lead from Motown and are reminiscent of his Style Council material. Weller also manages to get to grips with politics on ’Find the Torch, Burn the Plans’, which rings true with the election day looming. The remaining tracks showcase Weller at his most experimental and even feature a collaboration with Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine fame on ‘7&3 is the Strikers Name’.
The most noticeable aspect of this release is how diverse each track is and how Weller is pushing the boundaries, but also having a right ol’ good time in doing so. Equally impressive is, although the album has 16 tracks in all most of the tracks are short and sharp and there doesn’t seem to be a duff track on there. If there is one minor flaw it’s due to the short length of the songs and there are no pauses, which means that some of them don’t linger long enough to make an impression, but this is not a major issue due to the high quality of the material.
It seems there is reason to rejoice for Paul Weller, he has made an album that is in turn adventurous, fun and has avoided reverting to type, which confirms why he is so highly regarded and, in a scene which is overcrowded with copyists, still relevant.