It’s been about twenty years since the Stone Roses released any new material, the Second Coming, and even that was after a five year gap. And whilst their last album was met with a rather mixed response, it is with bright eyes and bushy tails that we look this new single (in preview of an upcoming album) as either a climactic return to form or yet another road bump in their descent into obscurity.
First and foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room, the lyrics are so God awfully cheesy that it is not an unfair estimation to say they were written by a mediocre school tribute band. In fact, the same logic could be applied for a great deal of the song. The lyrics are so repetitive I can scarcely tell the difference between the verse and the chorus. Ian Brown, singer, could have called this song “Experimenting with Copy and Paste” and I would hold astounding less contempt for it. You would naturally assume the Stone Roses wrote this as a political gambit to try and ‘break the wheel’ of lyrical stanza or revolting against the superficial monetisation of the music industry. Battling all this with nothing but the crude tools of mind numbing repetition and dull lyrics designed to bore their foes into unadulterated misery. Whether this be intentional or simply apathy, the song does drag on a bit for what is only a three minute runtime. l hope people, upon first listening to this, enjoy the first verse(?) as you’ll be hearing it another four times, in what is an unlikely ode to both the ‘Three Musketeers’ and Donald Trump’s foreign policy. I would love to blame this eccentric juxtaposition on the Roses’ long dissociation from the cultural shifts, a common criticism of their last album released after a long break, but I would instead chalk this up to simple optimism that the band (in all necessity) needs after coming back once more to a music scene that has shifted radically since their initial fame.
Once more we have a guitar driven sound that harkens back to the Second Coming rather than their ‘Stone Roses’ album, and by ‘guitar driven’ I mean that the bassist and drummer likely fell asleep during recording. You might have forgiven the repetitive lyrics if it wasn’t for the lack lustre instrumental. Say the drums or bass were of the same calibre as previous tracks like “Elephant Stone” or “Made of Stone”, perhaps then the song would be extensively more fleshed out with more going on than just the basic riff. “Fools Gold” can be considered in some ways to be repetitive, but its underline repetition is overlaid with some great licks, melodies and variation throughout the song that goes toward making it an absolute classic. “All for One” on the other hand is incredibly riff heavy, and whilst at first this sounds rather appealing, by the end of the song you’re just sick of hearing it. There’s limited variation with the song, again emphasising guitar work to a fault, and this monotony is only broken by John Squire’s solo in the later segment before plunging tragically back into the same riff until the bitter end. No changes. No alterations. Just when you thought you were out, they pull you back in.
I think my lasting opinion, after listening to this song far more than I ordinarily would, is not dissimilar from the majority that I have heard upon the songs release. The song is not great, at best you’d say it’s painting by the colours, doing the bare minimum required to constitute a Stone Roses song. However after such a long break and the volatile nature of the band, it were as if the band was a small woodland fox that we’re deathly afraid of scaring away. After it took so long to coax them out of hiding thus far, we think twice before slapping down their first attempts to re-establish themselves in fear that they might scamper away once more. That being said, however, I am obliged to be honest when I write a critique – I even swear myself in every time I start writing. So to be blunt, I didn’t enjoy it. I think they can do better and I certainly hope they will upon the release of the full album. Call me a hopeless romantic but I truly believe there’s still time for them to find that same creative flare which led them to take the music world by storm now 27 years ago.