Stereophonics

Graffiti on the Train

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Continuing in the sober vein begun on 2009's Keep Calm and Carry On, Stereophonics manage a nifty trick on 2013's Graffiti on the Train: they sound simultaneously massive and intimate. Arena rock remains their specialty, as they're adhering to the tradition articulated by U2 and refined by Coldplay, two bands whose influence echoes throughout Graffiti on the Train, but Stereophonics never sound as massive as either group. Instead, as led by Kelly Jones, the band seems preoccupied with smaller issues, either matters of the heart or sundry mundane issues of existence. They're at their most distinctive when they bend big music traditions a bit -- the strings are a nice touch to the title track, "Indian Summer" has some propulsion, "Catacomb" dilutes the Manics, and, best of all, "Been Caught Cheating" is an unexpected and successful stab at country-soul -- but Stereophonics seem loath to leave all that they know behind, so Graffiti on the Train remains distinctly earthbound for all its big aspirations.

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