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ALBUM REVIEW: THE WONDER STUFF – BETTER BEING LUCKY

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★★★☆☆

ARTIST: THE WONDER STUFF
ALBUM: BETTER BEING LUCKY
LABEL: GOOD DEEDS

‘Feet to the Flames’ opens this records with an overwhelmingly exultant and triumphant sound. The track is reminiscent of a Manic Street Preachers ‘90s indie sound and Miles Hunt’s voice is alike James Dean Bradfield’s.
Once one of the biggest bands in the UK, The Wonder Stuff have experienced a big change in sound over the years. The Stourbridge five-piece formed in 1986, split in 1994 and have been reformed since 2000. Eleven members have come and gone with the current line-up featuring Miles Hunt, Mark Thwaite, Erica Nockalls, Pete Howard and Malc Treece. Miles and Malcolm are the original longstanding members. They’ve endured as UK music press favourites and were once associated with other Black Country acts like Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and Pop Will Eat Itself (who they have toured with throughout their careers). However, this album lacks the lyrical bite of rebellion and you’re more likely to sidle this album next to The National than Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine.
Having said that, ‘Lay Down Your Cards’ is an epic indie power ballad and the band’s sound has evolved from guitar pop, bringing in sampling, folk and country. ‘Bound’ is an upbeat stand out track with alternative rock conviction. ‘It’s The Little Things…’ ups the tempo and brings a sound like Suede with violins. ‘Better Being Lucky’ is one of the album’s strongest tracks with a Levellers feel, poundings drums and furious violin work. It’s not what most Vive Le Rock readers would like from an album, its soft, dreamy and ambitious indie.

Paula Frost

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