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Album Review

Heliocentric is a lighter affair than the doggedly traditional Heavy Soul. It may be a subtle distinction, since he's using the same musical template he has since Wild Wood, plus the same producer and many of the same musicians. So, Heliocentric sounds very familiar, yet when it reaches its conclusion with the melancholy psychedelic sweep of "Love-Less," it's clear that it feels a lot different than its two immediate predecessors — it's of a similar quality and emotional tenor as Wild Wood. It's also his strongest record since then, a remarkably sturdy and varied set of songs and performances. Sadness and regret are scattered throughout the album, but there's also humor, affection, and, ultimately, optimism — three qualities missing on Heavy Soul. Heliocentric has many more musical quirks than its predecessor. Strings grace several songs, plus there are extended jams so psychedelic they're almost prog. There really aren't any rockers, but there's the wonderfully jaunty acoustic number "Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea," one of his most unaffected and, well, sweetest songs. "A Whale's Tale" is his own spin on a sea ballad, while "Back in the Fire" rolls along on a nearly jazzy beat. Those ever-changing moods keep the record fresh and interesting, yet Heliocentric still winds up sounding part of a piece, since Weller is focused here, as a songwriter and a record-maker, which he hasn't been since Wild Wood. Like that latter-day Weller masterpiece, Heliocentric grows stronger with each spin, as the songs catch hold and details in the production and nuances in the performances reveal themselves. That may not constitute a new direction for Weller, but it's certainly a terrific record that signals a creative rebirth, which is the next best thing.

Customer Reviews

Beautiful and refreshing

Great album with fantastic string arrangements.


Born: May 25, 1958 in Woking, Surrey, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As the leader of the Jam, Paul Weller fronted the most popular British band of the punk era, influencing legions of English rockers ranging from his mod revival contemporaries to the Smiths in the '80s and Oasis in the '90s. During the final days of the Jam, he developed a fascination with Motown and soul, which led him to form the sophisti-pop group the Style Council in 1983. As the Style Council's career progressed, Weller's interest in soul developed into an infatuation with jazz-pop and house...
Full Bio