Stereophonics

Performance and Cocktails

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    7
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In December 1998, the Stereophonics released the single "The Bartender and the Thief," which became an unexpected explosion on the charts, peaking at number three in the U.K. In March 1999, the band's sophomore effort, Performance and Cocktails, was released to impressive sales -- it was reportedly outselling Blur's 13 when that album was released. A second single, "Just Looking," also peaked within the U.K. Top Ten, making the first half of 1999 a very unexpectedly busy time for the Stereophonics. Never a favorite to become a hugely successful Brit-pop band, their noisy, raw hard rock came into favor after the more produced and calculated sound of Brit-pop had become passe. Unfortunately, however, this disc isn't quite as consistent as the debut. Part of the reason why Word Gets Around was so appealing is that there was a sense of urgency that, on this release, seems to have disappeared. There are more ballads than before, and some of the rockers don't burn with the intensity that they did on the last album. This doesn't make Performance and Cocktails a bad album, though; fans will be very pleased that the Stereophonics have released another slab of indie-flavored hard rock. Some highlights include "T Shirt Sun Tan," the acoustic "She Takes Her Clothes Off," and the poppy "Pick a Part That's New." (Japanese versions of this album include three live tracks, but the quality is mediocre and the performances are unspectacular, making this version of the release for hardcore fans only.)

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