Lockdown’s equivalent of the baby boom is a song boom. Songwriters have had little else to do than experiment with middle eights and think up interesting new rhymes for “lonely”. With recording continuing more or less unabated while live music has shut down, these new songs have spotted their chance. The opportunity of making it out of the notebook has never been greater.
Fat Pop (Volume 1) bears the fruits of Paul Weller’s lockdown labours. It’s his second album in less than a year, following On Sunset. The songs were worked on during the first UK lockdown before being recorded with his regular accompanists over the summer: guitarist Steve Cradock, bassist Andy Crofts and drummer Ben Gordelier. The 12 tracks have an eager, zesty feel, short in length but broad in range, as frisky as the young pups whose numbers have also boomed over the past year.
“Cosmic Fringes” is an enjoyable blast of punky synth-rock with tongue-in-cheek lyrics about narcissistic self-absorption. “True” manages to pack a lot into its two minutes, starting as a classic new wave rock duet between Weller and Lia Metcalfe of Liverpool band The Mysterines, before spinning off into a jazzier realm, as though exploring the creative potential of brevity in pop songs.
“Shades of Blue” opens with the sound of a clock, while “Glad Times” finds Weller singing about not wanting to be lonely. (The word has no rhyme in his song: a true state of solitude.) But lockdown ennui is absent. Despite the album’s scattergun feel, from Spanish guitar in “Cobweb/Connections” to the mix of reggae and orchestral soul in “That Pleasure”, there are keepers among its hatchling songs.
‘Fat Pop (Volume 1)’ is released by Polydor