There’s an old saying I always turn to in times such as these. In the immortal words of former President George W Bush: “Fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me……..you can’t get fooled again.” One can only imagine what deeply upsetting circumstance to which the Georgie must have had in mind when he said that. But if was a betting man, I would estimate it would be equivalent to the conflict I felt upon learning that the Stone Roses had released a second single after the painful ‘All for One’ track. In a previous review I described the song as painfully bland, by the numbers, and unimaginably disappointing after such a long hiatus. So in short, my excitement before listening to the Roses’ new track ‘Beautiful Thing’ was comparable to an upcoming prostate exam from Dr Scissorhands. Still, much like every Guns and Roses fan since 1987, I longed for perhaps one of my favourite bands to return to their unstoppable glory – and maybe this song was the spark to start it all.
From the first thirty seconds you know there’s been a shift in style, the song is far more reminiscent of their previous hits than its controversial predecessor. The major feature of note, straight off the bat, is the flawless lead from ‘All for One’ into the start of the song. Interestingly, the Stone Roses did a similar trick with ‘Waterfall’ and ‘Don’t Stop’ where the songs seemingly flow into one another. However in this example it was principally down to the songs being reflections of one another. Play ‘Waterfall’ backwards and it sounds like ‘Don’t Stop’, play ‘Don’t Stop’ backwards and it sounds like ‘Waterfall’. Two songs for the price of one. On the other hand, in ‘Beautiful Thing’ there’s no such pattern, instead there are samples of ‘All for One’ strewn throughout the song. Listen carefully and you’ll be able to hear barely a few seconds of the melodies and chorus slid into the background, like a strange Mancunian haunting.
Outside of our preparation for the inevitable ‘Stone Roses – Trivial Pursuit’ release, the musical stylings on display are far more affluent than what we’ve seen for a while. Play the two singles side by side and it feels like the bassist and drummer wake up from a long nap about half way through. It’s hard not to draw a comparison between ‘Beautiful Thing’ and ‘Fools Gold’, both songs pair an offbeat rhythm with Brown’s nonsensical lyrical stylings. It’s comforting to know within the wishful din of reinvigorating old artists, that after two decades Ian Brown still hasn’t managed to shake his messianic tendencies. “There was no crucifixion / Just lies to steal your mind” – the opening lyrics basically translating to ‘the reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated.’ The Stone Roses are back, suffice to say, with Squire’s signature psychedelic riffs overlaid intermittently there is no mistaking it. This is vintage Stone Roses.
Stepping back from my incessant love for this song, like a starving orphan who’s been fed after several weeks of neglect, I begin to wonder if this whole ordeal was manufactured. Likes the Roses decided to release ‘All for One’, knowing it was a mediocre song, and predicted that then releasing ‘Beautiful Thing’ afterwards would make an even bigger splash. The sad thing is that this gambit has succeeded, I absolutely love the new song and it’s restored my faith in their upcoming album release. Even by association, ‘All for One’ has begun to sound a whole lot better, now that it’s been revealed as a political device rather than the herald of a new age. Perhaps I’m thinking too much into it. Or perhaps the Stone Roses have been playing this game with us the whole time. According to the Bible, the Second Coming (their last album) of Jesus (Ian Brown, apparently) also brings about the Rapture (apocalypse, cataclysm, the Stone Roses’ fall from grace). So apparently, based on my previous theory, the last 22 years have been an elaborate hoax orchestrated by the band in order to facilitate a climactic return to fame and fortune after a long absence. Releasing a sub-par album on purpose in order to create a rapture that would break up the band and send us into a long night devoid of their music. All just for it to be that much more spectacular when they finally release their next album, which they’ve been hanging onto for this entire time. Maybe that’s why it sounds so much like their music from back when they started Because it IS music from back when they started!
On the other hand, this could all just be an amusing coincidence, lets just take it for what it is and revel in the music. Wake up, sheeple. The Stone Roses are back!