Keep Calm and Carry On

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Awakening from the slick slumber of 2007’s Pull the Pin, Stereophonics team up with Jim Abbiss for 2009’s Keep Calm and Carry On, hoping the producer of Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, and the Music can liven them up a little bit. Abbiss does strip away the gloss that mummified Pull the Pin, guiding Stereophonics toward something a little more straightforward, where their Oasis obsessions are upgraded to a declawed Monkeys, the U2 swapped for Coldplay. While the relatively stripped-down setting winds up accentuating Kelly Jones’ status as a pretty boy frontman -- he sings with precision, not aggression -- it does let the rockers of the album’s first half latch in, particularly the rather propulsive “Trouble,” the nimble “She’s Alright,” and rolling “I Got Your Number,” and does keep the succession of anthems and ballads on the second half from seeming too languid. Stereophonics still wind up seeming a little too content to live up to their title -- if any band could use an adrenaline shot, it’s them -- but when a band is this placid, the little steps forward seem larger, as they do here.

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