It’s a curious facet of Paul Weller’s 21st century output that his Modfather image – retrospective, conservative – has actually been matched to some of the most daring music of his career. Releasing spiky, politicised post-punk and lush, acid folk hymnals alike, he’s cut those feather-cut-and-power-chords preconceptions to pieces.
This new EP – released on the essential Ghostbox imprint – is sheer acid England, a kind of weird walk around the environs of his native Woking, one that has more in common with Delia Derbyshire than Pete Townshend.
An EP full of fleeting glimpses, and a general sense of the uncanny, ‘In Another Room’ grapples with a shadow England. Yet where once we found well-worn influences – a dash of Steve Marriott, a hint of Ray Davies – Weller instead opts for elements of Broadcast, a group he has actually long espoused in interviews.
The opening track shares a fractured kind of pastoral landscape, with the wonky analogue electronics intruded upon by found-sounds. ‘Submerge’ has some deft effects, while the wheezing ‘Embarkation’ leaps haphazardly from idea to idea.
It’s far from perfect – truth be told, Ghost Box has released much better records in the past few years, but the chance to hear Paul Weller released such, well, un-Weller music is supremely interesting.
A songwriter whose work is dominated by its surroundings, ‘In Another Room’ presents another, radically different vision of England, moving from the bucolic to the dystopian with the twist of a dial. While adding a wyrd edge to Weller’s own work, the EP also displays the rather more nostalgic side of the English hypnogogia espoused by some aspects of the folk horror guild.
There’s a sense of Weller shifting palettes – embracing a slightly uncomfortable mirror of a 1973 dreamscape he once rebelled against – but still working within rules, never quite pin-pointing that feeling of the uncanny that makes Broadcast, say, such a riveting and often unsettling listen.
An experiment with mixed results, ‘In Another Day’ proves to have an illuminating impact that outshines much of the music underneath.
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