Paul Weller Wake Up The Nation

Paul Weller's last album (the sprawling 22 Dreams) demonstrated that the then 50-year-old wasn't willing to coast along on prior glories. While it wasn't completely successful, there was enough good stuff to make the prospect of his new album, Wake Up The Nation, an interesting one. And that was before Kevin Shields was rumoured to be participating. Hard as it is to believe, the new My Bloody Valentine album is being delayed (again) because the chance to play with Weller was just too good to pass up. And while Shields' contributions to two tracks are hardly crucial to the album, it demonstrates Weller's continued commitment to try something new. The album flies along at breakneck speed ― 16 tracks in fewer than 40 minutes ―never settling into any particular groove for any length of time. There's the Northern soul of "No Tears To Cry," the Wire-like "Up The Dosage" and numerous other styles. Weller is still very fond of the '60s and continues to delve into his musical past, recruiting his former band mate from the Jam (Bruce Foxton) to play on several tracks. Weller's coming up with new ideas at an ungodly rate and his songwriting partnership with Simon Dine continues to bear plenty of fruit. With a bit more focus and quality control, he has at least one more classic album in him. He's getting closer each time. (V2/Universal)