Album Review: Ian Brown, Ripples

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PATCHY EFFORT FROM STONE ROSES ICON

The lyrics were a major part of the appeal of the Stone Roses’ famous debut: refreshingly simple, they radiated a youthful, insurrectionary energy. Three decades later, singer Ian Brown’s latest solo offering, Ripples, boasts a similarly straightforward approach. Gone, though, is the zest for life, replaced with what sound distinctly like platitudes: “Loneliness can catch us all/ Love can strike like lightning.” There are also some less-than-piercing insights about the modern world: “Brainwashed sheep… your time will come/ Your river will run.

‘Blue Sky Day’ is especially odd, with Brown describing – wait for it – chemtrails, singing, “Street graffiti not allowed/ But vandalised skies” – lines that are followed by a succession of ropy plane puns! For me, the only track that works lyrically here is ‘Soul Satisfaction’, a sweet tune about what Brown would do for a loved one. All that said, those of us who have remonstrated with DJs for not playing ‘Fool’s Gold’ in full should know all about Brown’s flair for groovy melodies. Plus, there are undoubted moments of rhythmic inspiration on Ripples, including the bouncy, piano-driven opener ‘First World Problems’ (recalling George Michael’s ‘Freedom’); the exquisitely crafted ballad ‘From Chaos To Harmony’; and the funky ‘The Dream And The Dreamer’. Elsewhere, ‘It’s Raining Diamonds’ and the Beatles-like ‘Breathe And Breathe Easy’ are terrific psychedelic workouts.

What we’re left with is a strange mixed bag. Maybe next time out he’ll get his lyrical mojo back.

6/10

Out now via Polydor.

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