Like allotment owners faced with an overabundance of courgettes, even Paul Weller’s biggest fans must be wondering what to do with all these albums. Fat Pop arrives just 10 months after its predecessor, On Sunset, and is his fifth long player since 2015. “Nothing else to do, was there?” he has said of this lockdown creation, which was recorded when restrictions eased last summer.
However, there’s no sense that he’s knocking out this stuff from boredom. At 62, when he could be repackaging his greatest hits and counting the cash, he’s obviously finding great joy in his writing and that can’t help but rub off on the rest of us. Fat Pop was almost called Greatest Hits in fact, for a laugh, conceived as a collection of quickfire singles that cover a broad range of styles but have brevity in common. If you’re not keen on the shoop-dooping gospel of Testify, with its highly funky flute, it’s gone in under three minutes. How about the robotic electro-rock of Cosmic Fringes or the propulsive road trip groove of Failed?
The title track finds him singing in an unusually fragile voice over a ghostly groove that sounds like a Damon Albarn novelty. There are more serious moments too, such as The Pleasure, which is Weller’s reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement, and the grandiose closing ballad Still Glides the Stream.
Something for everyone then – and that “Volume 1” in the title suggests that we won’t have to wait long for yet more songs either. Even better.