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Paul Weller: Sonik Kicks

Old mod sounding much younger than his hairdo.

Not quite the electronic fest we’d been led to believe, Sonik Kicks does have the brilliant production freshness of 22 Dreams and Wake Up The Nation, which were Low and Heroes to this album’s Lodger. More significantly, its songs are fewer and more worked-out.

This is Weller coming out of his experimental cold shower with an eye on the mainstream again.

Even the Kraftwerk-referencing Kling I Klang, with its Cossack dance beat and references to the vicars’ wife and the Saracen’s Head, is classic guitar pop of the kind Noel Gallagher would like to write, and ender Be Happy Children is a gorgeous soul ballad whose synth whizzes recall 1970s Stevie Wonder and 1980s Style Council. Elsewhere there’s psychedelica on Dragonfly, garageband doowop on That Dangerous Age, and lots of songs with jaunty pop riffs.

When he was a young man, Weller always sounded older than his years, referencing first The Who and Dr Feelgood and then Curtis Mayfield and Traffic; now he’s in his 50s he makes the chart guitar bands of 2012 sound creaky.

This is, amazingly, a young man’s album, full of enthusiasm, optimism and great tunes.