Stereophonics Keep Calm and Carry On

Unlike so many of their Brit-rock peers, Stereophonics didn't build their career around a trendy sound, jingoistic lyrics or loudmouth personalities. Instead, the Welsh quartet focused on songs and scored a number of hits along the way. But when the hits dried up, the band were exposed for what they were: a personality-less group of rock stars overindulging in the studio. Unfortunately, on their seventh outing, this continues to pervade their music. Of course, the bloated production doesn't help. Like so many major label rock records, these songs are drastically overproduced, sucking the soul out of what could have been some decent tunes. Only lead single "Innocent" shows any of the fast and loose hooks that made their first couple of albums such fun indulgences. Lead singer Kelly Jones has never been one to pen the most stirring of lyrics, but he's always been dependable for some big sing-along choruses that get stadium fists pumping. However, 13 years into the band's career, he's run out of steam. (Mercury)