Album Review: The Wonder Stuff – “Oh No … It’s The Wonder Stuff”
Third album from the Stuffies post-reformation and, dare I say it, probably the Mk2 version of the group’s strongest effort to date. While their previous two efforts “Escape From Rubbish Island” and “Suspended By Stars” had more in common with frontman Miles Hunt’s solo output (not necessarily a bad thing but the more downbeat nature of the material was never gonna go down that well with an audience raised on “Don’t Let Me Down Gently” and “Welcome To The Cheap Seats”), “Oh No…” is a lot more identifiable as classic Wonder Stuff, albeit an older and even slightly wiser version.
In fact, this album’s a nice mix of old and new sounds from the veterans – while the title track and “From The Midlands With Love” are classic Wonder Stuff throughout with bouncy riffs and choruses that embed themselves in your brain and stubbornly refuse to let go, the more reflective likes of “Friendly Company” and “Right Side Of The Turf” show a more mature side to Miles Hunt’s songwriting and give the album a good change of pace.
The best results come though when they mix the two influences to good effect – “Be Thy Name” is classic upbeat tempo Stuffies but the tune masks some deceptively dark lyrics about looking back at times gone by and maybe wishing they’d lasted a bit longer while “Hard Truths (Stay A While)” is a similar mix of light and dark.
As a bonus as well, we get a disc of cover versions, “From The Midlands With Love”, featuring the group turning their hand to some other classics by groups from the area including Dodgy’s “In A Room”, Slade’s “Far Far Away” and the Primitives’ “Crash”. They pull these off with enough of a mix of respect for the originals and adding their own touch to make it well worth a listen.
A decent return to form then. Those of you who thought the Stuffies had lost their fire since coming back on the scene should be pleasantly surprised with “Oh No…”.