STEREOPHONICS - Pull The Pin

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UK only. Ten years in, Stereophonics sound appropriately settled on their sixth album, 2007's Pull the Pin. Then again, Stereophonics were never the liveliest of rock bands even in their youth. They beat out the likes of Travis to be perhaps the stodgiest of all the post-Oasis bands, aspiring to nothing more than being a solid stadium rock band, borrowing some of the sweeping sonics of U2 but relying more on the revivalism of Oasis with a slight hint of the epic scale of fellow Welsh rockers Manic Street Preachers. Stereophonics soldiered through album after album, aided considerably on their march to popularity by the cinema star good looks of guitarist/vocalist/all-around nice guy Kelly Jones, who was undeniably attractive in photos but not quite forceful on record. Nowhere is that soft center in sharper relief than on Pull the Pin, which sounds bigger and slicker than anything they've ever done -- a large-scale album suited for their large popularity in the U.K. -- but Jones seems to be carried along by the sound instead of driving it. It's not as much that he's overwhelmed as he is...settled.