Album Review: The Wonder Stuff – “30 Goes Around The Sun”
30 Goes Around The Sun is no less than the eighth album from the Wonder Stuff, and the fourth since the band reconvened at the turn of the millennium. Their previous effort Oh No… It’s The Wonder Stuff! was probably their strongest since they reformed, so it’s safe to say that 30 Goes Around The Sun (named, as the title suggest, in honour of 2016 being 30 years since the band formed) has quite a bit to live up to.
The first thing you notice about the album is that it’s a lot more laid back and melancholy than its predecessor, with a lot of tracks being based around acoustic guitars and the fiddle of Erica Nockalls. The likes of Don’t You Ever and The Affirmation are based around lyrical themes of uncertainty and doubt – certainly a far cry from the sneering spikiness of Don’t Let Me Down Gently or Welcome To The Cheap Seats. In that sense, 30 Goes Around The Sun is maybe a bit closer to Miles Hunt’s solo career than the classic Wonder Stuff template. That’s no bad thing incidentally, but if you go into this expecting another Size Of A Cow, be warned, it isn’t there. Weakened and Misunderstanding Burton Heel are maybe the closest things to the old school Stuffies sound on here, owing a sly nod to Circlesquare and Who Wants To Be The Disco King? respectively.
There’s the odd sign of the old Hunt sarkiness on the likes of For The Broken Hearted and Last Days Of The Feast but overall, this is the sound of a more grown-up and reflective Wonder Stuff. But luckily the tunes have accompanied them through the journey and it’s this that makes 30 Goes Around The Sun an engaging listen. Certainly the likes of the title track, One Day On and the look back at childhood memories that is The Kids From The Green are fine songs indeed, and it’s this which makes this a worthwhile album to add to your collection.
This may be a bit of a curveball to those who are expecting something similar to Hup or Never Loved Elvis, but it's a good listen in its own way, a well thought out and well played group of songs which proves that this group still have plenty to say as they enter their fourth decade. So yeah, The Wonder Stuff are officially growing up gracefully, who'd have thunk it?