Prior to releasing their third effort, Stereophonics endured brief controversy under the album's title, Just Enough Education to Perform. Already having dealt with the critics' views of this being a country or acoustic record, frontman Kelly Jones wanted the album to go by the abbreviation of J.E.E.P., which captures the band's opinions of the music industry. Of course, politics played the game and Daimler-Chrysler objected to the use, claming copyright and usage of the word "Jeep." Despite the media drama, Jones isn't entirely disenchanted on Just Enough Education to Perform and the album isn't heavy with needle acoustics or twangy licks either. It's another glassy cast of rock & roll rawness (with slight acoustics) that's made them indie darlings since their inception in the mid-'90s. Performance and Cocktails (1999) was more abrasive with Jones' signature scratchy vocals, and the rough poetics on 1997's Word Gets Around were impressive; however, Just Enough Education to Perform illustrates a more mature Stereophonics. It's a monolith of 11 detailed narratives, each playing with areas of soul, aggro rock, and moody pop/rock. The band from Cwmaman, Wales is trying to be more comfortable with the gradual process of feeling out their own place. The debut single "Mr. Writer" scowls at music journalists for their quick-witted opinions, and twitching riffs carry Jones' heartfelt aggression. The gospel-tinged "Vegas Two Times" is one of the album's more ruffled tracks, but it's the old-fashioned "Step On My Old Size Nines" that makes for an enjoyable transition from rock tune to classic ballad. It's quite endearing, similar to older cuts such as "Hurry Up and Wait" and "Traffic." The Stereophonics appear to be achieving a much-welcomed calamity. Changes within their personal lives shaped the sounds found on this record, most notably "Maybe" and "Watch Them Fly Sundays." Crafted around blues-rock guitars and shimmering percussion, these swan songs reflect the demise of Jones' relationship with his longtime girlfriend. They're gorgeously haunting with emotional depictions, and the Stereophonics are okay with that. No longer into the destructive side of rock & roll, Just Enough Education to Perform exudes a peaceful sect; a charming side is more visible even though Jones has had his row with the press. He can laugh about it while wholeheartedly believing that the Stereophonics have shaped their latest work into their most stunning material yet.
AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson