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Paul Weller | On Sunset

The Modfather throws caution to the wind on his audacious 15th studio release.

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Paul Weller has never been a man who likes to repeat himself. But even he has his limits. Or at least he used to. The former Jam / Style Council frontman and beloved Modfather throws caution and restraint to the wind on his audaciously adventurous 15th studio release On Sunset. One of the most diverse, experimental and unclassifiable releases of his long and winding career, the kaleidoscopic 15-track disc uses every colour in Weller’s stylistic paintbox — and then mixes up a few new ones of its own. Horn-driven New Orleans soul and funk, psychedelic-blues shuffles, string-topped folk-pop, Music Hall balladry and even epic sound collages; they’re all here and then some — and often sharing space in the same song. The thing that unites them all is the widescreen sonic canvas: A maximalist yes tastefully rendered setting that merrily and boundlessly blends acoustic and electric instruments with electronic textures, orchestrated arrangements, trippy production flourishes and plenty of instrumental noodling. The one thing it deliberately does not do is rock out in any way, shape or form that would please an old Jam fan who hoped the album title’s resemblance to Setting Sons might have been more than sheer coincidence. On the other hand, it could and should please anyone who spends enough time with it to acquire the taste for Weller’s everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach. But ultimately, you get the sense On Sunset is really designed to satisfy one person and only one person: Weller himself.

THE PRESS RELEASE: “With a creative peak that continues to shoot skyward, Paul Weller releases his 15th studio album On Sunset. It features 10 classic yet modern songs. On Sunset is a soul album. At the same time it’s also an electronic album, an orchestral album, an album packed with masterly pop songs and heart-tugging ballads, and an album filled with touches of experimentalism. It’s also an album that sees Weller taking a rare glance into the rear-view mirror as he speeds into the 2020s. As ever, Weller retains a rigorous forward-looking focus when it comes to seeking out the best contemporary sounds and music. But lyrically, Weller is also starting to look back on the past with the insight of age. Most of the album sees Weller multi-tasking on various instruments with accompaniment from his regular band.”