Ed Power reviews the new solo album from Ian Brown of the Stone Roses
“Why do Roses all turn to stone? Too much poison,” sings Ian Brown on the opening track to his first new album in ten years. It’s obvious what he is referring too — in 2017 the Stones Roses’ much-feted comeback fell apart even as they finalised plans to return to the studio to work on new material.
Instead, the group’s shamanic frontman is once again going it alone. This might not be a disaster. The two singles the Roses did record following their reunion, ‘All For One’ and ‘Beautiful Thing’, were ghastly parodies — and there seemed a real danger that a follow-through record might blot rather than enhance their legacy.
Ironically, Brown (55) working alone comes closer to channeling the star-crossed arrogance that was a feature of the Roses during their early-1990s ‘baggy’ hey-day. The original of the cocksure frontman species — a look later aped by Liam Gallagher — he is back to his swaggering prime here.
‘There you go again with your first world problems,” he chants on the millennial-baiting ‘First World Problems’ against a riff borrowed from the Rolling Stone’s’ ‘Sympathy for the Devil’.
As with every proper pop star he’s not above the odd conspiracy theory either, crooning “Jet planes making chemtrails… Street graffiti not allowed / But vandalise stratospheric skies,” on the loose-limbed and agreeably bleary ‘Blue Sky Day’.
Throughout the sensibility is woozily aggressive — as if Brown has just woken from a slumber and remembered why he got into music in the first place.
If the Stone Roses reunion was, along with every thing else, an opportunity to top up his pension,here he comes across as determined to enhance his legacy before he shuffles off. Stone Roses fans may lament the band falling apart a second time. But Brown has emerged stronger, wiser and with even more to say than before.