Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones was still licking some serious wounds due to the breakup of his 12-year relationship with his girlfriend and a fallout with a best mate. The band's 2001 release, Just Enough Education to Perform, briefly touched upon his broken heart; however, Jones' darkest period came later as the band played countless sold-out gigs across Europe throughout late 2001 and 2002. Jones found himself personally and professionally isolated -- emotionally distant from his bandmates and best friends, drummer Stuart Cable and bassist Richard Jones, and creatively exhausted. However the fire that had made this band a major force in the post-grunge English rock scene still burned. Stereophonics' fourth album, You Gotta Go There to Come Back captures Jones' soulful journey, and the band's classic rowdy rock style is as sultry as ever. While their three previous albums exuded cockiness just for the sake of being cocky, You Gotta Go There to Come Back doesn't care to be so snide. Sure, the band's classic swagger remains an integral part of its overall appeal, but moving beyond that silly behavior has somehow affected Jones and his band. Cable became a father during the recording of this album while Richard Jones settled down and got married. Perhaps Jones craves a bit of stability as well? His confidence is on par throughout these 13 blues-rock-tinged songs as his life unfolds through words. "Jealousy" and "You Stole My Money Honey" are the album's more vexed moments. "Climbing the Wall," layered in acoustic guitars and horn and string arrangements, and "Nothing Is Precious at All" continue Stereophonics' psychological sifting with warmth. "Madame Helga" is the punch in the face Jones has been waiting to deliver. Heart-pounding musicianship from the band itself makes this swanky gospel number an album standout and a career staple. It's a song that Stereophonics have been wanting to make for years, and the overall fierce presentation finds the band at its best. Stereophonics are consistent with their craft, and You Gotta Go There to Come Back highlights the band's growing talent as musicians, but the fact is that they've only made good records up to this point. They have yet to make a really great record, but that's not to say Stereophonics don't have what it takes. You Gotta Go There to Come Back is a solid rock effort, and in due time, the band will have its epic.
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AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson