Ah, Miles Hunt and his Wonder Stuff. A brand new album hitting the shelves what’s not to like? Thirty years in the bathroom from their first record being released is quite some achievement, sure they have hit some bumps in the road along the way and success has come and gone and come again. The important thing is we’re here now on the dawn of this their ninth album and whilst nobody is pretending it will instantly gratify the listener in the same way that debut did or ‘Hup’ or ‘Construction For The Modern Idiot’ But to believe it will be as instantly gratifying as those would be something else in 2019. however I do get excited when the Stuffies are planning a new record or going out on tour even now in my 50s, I’m well up for it and on the strength of the last few tours and what might unfold this could be the dawn of something special.
Thirty years have passed and Miles and the band have learnt a thing or two but I can assure you that this has the hallmarks of classic Wonder Stuff and some. They’ve always appreciated the opening song needs to be something of a statement piece, be it a mood creator or one that sets the tone. Be it angry or mellow, whatever it needs to be good. so when ‘Feet To The Flame’ has the lush bass tones and ebow howl before the signature violin swings into action this is an impressive grand entrance. As it builds towards the first chorus you can’t help but smile, that knowing smile that this promises to be another great Stuffies recording and to move into the considered ‘Lay Down Your Cards’ is dramatic and building alright, this is everything I was hoping for and more.
Eleven tracks covering plenty of emotions from the safe Stuffies territory or the mellow and reflective ‘Don’t Anyone Dare Give A Damn’ with some great lyrics and plenty of twists and turns. I love that some will be instant, others will grow and the pecking order of what I love will change. Opening up their records with a super-strong tune from the smouldering ‘Mission Drive’ or the bombastic ‘Red Berry Joy Town’ or the epic ’30 years’ this album has something for everyone, sure there is a feeling of nostalgia at times due to the trademark licks ‘n’ riffs but there is also strides into new territory. ‘No Thieves Among Us’ has a heavy riff (the bands heaviest to date) but as the song unfolds it veers into Bowie glam rock territory but a great riff is a great riff and no quarter is spared. To follow it with a lighter more dreamy pop orientate song. The title track is poptastic with a great melody and some familiar rhythmic drum patterns.
‘Bound’ sounds like it was made for being performed live grand and full of big guitar strokes both acoustic and electric. ‘Its the Little things’ has some classic Stuffies vibe to it but its also go ta jarring electric guitar riff weaving through the verses behind the fiddle, excellent stuff! ‘when All This Is Over’ has some tribal beats and sounds like it might have fitted nicely on to a Mission album like ‘Children’ no bad thing in my book and the sound of a band expanding their reach. In contrast to filling every available space with sound ‘The guy With The Gift’ is sparse and laid back with the acoustic taking centre stage and some great vocal harmonies its some wonderful respite and time to maybe take stock of what has to this point been one hell of an album and one that will I’m sure over time stand toe to toe with what has gone before it in the bands illustrious career.
Every member of the band has their space to shine and that comes through in the songs, no single aspect outshines the overall record and the songs are what it’s all about which is the main reason we’re here right?
Sure there are high points so far and that’s great but the points I’m taking are the Stuffies are still pushing boundaries with a sparkling production (something you’d expect), Strong vocal and lyrical content. Excellent arrangments and a modern record that’s not out of step nor is it nostalgic or a definitely not going through the motions record. It might be ‘Better Being Lucky’ but I think it’s better being a Wonder Stuff fan right here right now when they’re making records this good. Buy this record and get a ticket for the tour you won’t regret either.
Buy ‘Better Being Lucky’ Here
Author: Dom Daley