Paul Weller

More Modern Classics, Vol. 2

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An explicit sequel to his first solo hits collection, Modern Classics: The Greatest Hits, 2014's More Modern Classics covers more ground than its 1998 predecessor, packing in 15 years and seven studio albums into its 21 tracks. There are more songs here but not necessarily more hits. The last time Weller cracked the U.K. Top Ten was in 2005, when the coiled "From the Floorboards Up" went to six, but the upper reaches of the charts were rarefied territory for Weller in the new millennium; "It's Written in the Stars" reached number seven in 2001, "Wishing on a Star" from 2004's covers album Studio 150 went to 11, but singles from his celebrated critical comebacks of 2008-2012 -- the trio of LPs that included 22 Dreams, Wake Up the Nation, and Sonik Kicks -- went no further than 19, and by the time the 2010s rolled around, breaking into the Top 40 was a difficult task. This lack of big hits hardly diminishes More Modern Classics, which contains almost all the A-sides he released during these 15 years (a few singles from Studio 150 are understandably left behind, as is anything that could be called a digital single), plus the new singles "Flame-Out!" and "Brand New Toy." Weller may have had bigger hits in his first decade of solo stardom but these second 15 years often produced richer music. The earliest records covered here -- 2000's Heliocentric and 2002's Illumination -- sound bigger and wilder than his popular peak circa Stanley Road, and then when his commonly accepted comeback kicks in via 2008's "Echoes Round the Sun," Weller starts taking risks, opening himself up to new sonic vistas without abandoning the signature he created on Wild Wood. This shift was apparent on the studio albums, but condensed into a 21-track compilation, Weller's new millennial work sounds all the more startling, and it also sounds like an addictive jukebox filled with crackling 7" singles.