Unhappy with the slicker approach of Setting Sons, the Jam got back to basics, using the direct, economic playing of All Mod Cons and "Going Underground," the simply brilliant single which preceded Sound Affects by a few months. Thematically, though, Paul Weller explored a more indirect path, leaving behind (for the most part) the story-song narratives in favor of more abstract dealings in spirituality and perception -- the approach stemming from his recent readings of Blake and Shelley (who was quoted on the sleeve), but more specifically Geoffrey Ash, whose Camelot and the Vision of Albion made a strong impression. Musically, Weller drew upon Revolver-era Beatles as a primary source (the bassline on "Start," which comes directly from "Taxman," being the most obvious occurrence), incorporating the occasional odd sound and echoed vocal, which implied psychedelia without succumbing to its excesses. From beginning to end, the songs are pure, clever, infectious pop -- probably their catchiest -- with "That's Entertainment" and the should-have-been-a-single "Man in the Corner Shop" standing out.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Woodstra