Month of New Music 2011, Day One: The Style Council’s My Ever Changing Moods

As part of my ever-weakening commitment to keeping this blog alive, I’m happy to announce my second annual Month of New Music, starting today. As with last year, that means I’ll be listening to an album per day that I have never before listened to in its entirety – new as in new to me, not necessarily new this week or year or month or decade – and chronicling my first impressions in easily digestible paragraphs.

And, with the exposition out of the way, let’s get started:

The Style Council – My Ever Changing Moods (Polydor, 1984)

I’ve always felt like I’d really like The Jam if I ever gave them a proper chance, but Paul Weller’s catalogue in general is imposing enough that I’ve never really started in on it. And on first listen, My Ever Changing Moods is making me think that was a pretty significant mistake.

Let’s get the bad out of the way first: Weller’s foray into hip hop, “A Gospel,” is awkward. Respectably awkward, sure, and impressively forward-thinking, but like The Clash and Blondie’s experiments with rap, it just hasn’t aged well at all.

But that’s the only genre Weller and co. don’t pull off here. The rest is a rousing blend of rock, soul, R&B, ska and pop – “Here’s One That Got Away” even echoes the Celtic soul of Dexy’s Midnight Runners, which only leads to instant credit in my book. In terms of influence and production, it seems to draw from the same well as a lot of the acts that get lumped into the “yacht rock’ movement, but with so much more vitality – I’m not sure if it’s the political underpinnings to a lot of the songs, or Weller’s roots in the mod and new wave scenes, but something in there is keeping this from falling into easy listening.

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