Ian Brown

Music of the Spheres

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AllMusic Review by

Before Music of the Spheres was released, Ian Brown touted it as a return for him to the peak form of his former band, the Stone Roses. As things go in the U.K., many members of the British music press jumped on the comments and appropriated Brown's views as their own. Realistically, Music of the Spheres is a strong, mature album, befitted with lush, exhilarating production that easily fits alongside Unfinished Monkey Business and Golden Greats, but it doesn't introduce anything revolutionary or match the excellence of The Stone Roses. The only thing that seems new for Brown on Music of the Spheres is that a number of the songs sound like minimalist tone poem explorations and that he sings in Spanish on "El Mundo Pequeno." One example of the minimalism is "Hear No See No," where Brown accompanies spare electronic notes with whispers of the title lyrics. But the album is at its strongest when he reaches for the inspired hooks and choruses that are his bread and butter. "F.E.A.R." is particularly compelling, with its lush string sounds and Brown's insanely catchy repetition of the letters that make up the song's title. "Stardust" and "Shadow of a Saint" are the album's other standouts, where Brown concocts frazzled poetry like, "I'm made from stardust/The same DNA as stardust," and intones about the "wings of an angel." Less bombastic than Golden Greats and more focused than Unfinished Monkey Business, Music of the Spheres is brimming with charm and accomplished, polished songcraft. There's no reason for Brown to abandon this style of music, and there's also no reason that he should feel the need to match the glories of The Stone Roses. Ian Brown's solo discography includes nothing but vibrant, organic albums. Each is worth exploring nearly as much as those of his former band. Considering the undeniably genius of the Stone Roses, that's extremely high praise.

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