Monday, May 24, 2021

Fat Pop: The Modfather, Paul Weller’s latest album, and the soundtrack to our summer of freedom

Paul Weller’s latest album ‘Fat Pop’, is a burst of energy and optimism, released with perfect timing as it mirror’s the optimism of Britain’s new freedom thanks to the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions. His previous album, On Sunset, was released almost a year ago in 2020, making his latest lockdown album. This proves that despite the difficulties artists have faced during this time, there was still hope and productivity to be found. 

Weller proves in this album that he is as eclectic as ever with each song showing his ability to create songs that can stand alone as singles, and not get lost in an album.


Weller reinvents and transforms in an almost Dr Who like manner, into new forms and genres with each regeneration that he goes through, and this album is no exception. 

A song like ‘Cobweb / Connections’ feels extremely stripped back, with its steady strumming guitar, in comparison to the albums opening track ‘Cosmic Fringes’, which is Weller’s take on electro, featuring his monotone vocals. This contrast represents the talent that makes Weller a trailblazer. He has an ability to change hats with such ease, and through doing so has achieved an album in ‘Fat Pop’ that has an extreme repeatability, without the fear of the songs merging into one another.


The titular song is as cool as it is unique, with a strange but really effective electricity to it. Its strong bassline helps in providing this electric feel. It has Weller asking, “Who’s never ever let you down”, “Who gives a fuck when no one else does?”. And his answer?  Fat Pop! Perhaps here Weller alludes to the saviour that making new music has been to him and to artists in general. A fact particularly interesting given the fact that the creation of this album was during the pandemic.


Shades of Blue’ is a real stand-out for the album and consolidates its optimistic message. Lyrics like “Spend all your life/ Just to find out/ All that matters/ Is close to you”, delivering an important message to young and old, a message that Weller himself has come to realise and utilise throughout his multi-faceted life and career. The phrase shades of blue, which would typically represent a certain sadness, here is used instead for hope, “To follow a dream/ In shades of blue”. 

In better times’ also hears Weller taking on the role of messenger, as he delivers another important message of hope, “In better times, you will fly / Do all the things you wanna do”. Weller celebrated his 11th year of sobriety this year, and this song presumably comes from the places of his past that he was trapped in, and is now free from.


The album ends with ‘Still Glides the Stream’, - named after a Flora Thompson book of the same name, a novel which Weller’s collaborator Steve Craddock had seen in a shop. There is a real soul and poetry to the final song of the album, honouring those who, unlike Weller, are not congratulated for their work; and yet our world would not function without them or their work. This song represents the album as a whole; Weller is humbled and hopeful despite all that he and we as a society have gone through. He speaks from a place of experience and wisdom and uses his music to try and pass on his optimism to all that listen.



Freya Howarth

@howarthfreya/ @discofrez

Image: Sandra Vijandi

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