Keep the Village Alive

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Keep the Village Alive comes crashing out of the gates with "C'est la Vie," a dead ringer for the Manic Street Preachers at their anthemic best, a new wrinkle to Stereophonics' parade of anthems. Elsewhere on this, their ninth studio album, they try on a few new styles for kicks -- notably, there's a bit of muted Cult to "Sing Little Sister," a hint of neo-disco on "Fight or Flight," a bit of baroque pop on "Sunny" -- but otherwise, the power trio still trades on the hybrids of Coldplay and U2 inspirational urgency and melodramatic introspection that fill out arenas across the U.K. and Europe. If there are no surprises, there are also no stumbles: Kelly Jones and his crew know how to craft big music, knowing that often the atmosphere matters more than melody.

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