After 21 years, The Stone Roses have released a new single, ‘All for One’, produced by Paul Epworth. The band have been hinting, since 2012, that new music was on the way, but nothing prevailed. With their iconic lemon logos featured on billboards around Manchester though, it was signalled in true Stone Roses fashion that something big was happening.
In my last article on The Stone Roses comeback tour, I speculated that there was no new album on the way to give a reason for the band’s reappearance. The Stone Roses have a knack for surprises though, considering the reunion that fans thought was impossible, or even their fast entrance into the music scene where they sold out gigs purely through word of mouth and went from a cult band to an epochal and integral part of British music and subculture.
‘All for One’ is the same kind of style and sound as their self titled album, but that’s not to say that it’s as good. It seems that ‘All For One’ is more enthusiastic, upbeat and louder than what we remember their spirited songs such as ‘She Bangs the Drums’ and ‘Mersey Paradise’ but ‘All for One’ is not as meaningful or as memorable as these tunes.
“The Stone Roses is held up with so much love and opinion that nothing the Roses can produce will match the high standards it has set”
It resonates more with Second Coming, the sophomore album that was mediocre, with a couple of great tracks. The voice and the rhythms are all reminiscent of their old stuff, though Ian Brown promised it wouldn’t be a ‘trip down memory lane’. If it wasn’t though, the hardcore, first generation fans may not be on board with it all.
It seems many fans want another ‘I Am The Resurrection’ rather than something new, ignoring the fact that this new single is a taster of what is to come rather than the peak of their upcoming album. The Stone Roses is held up with so much love and opinion that nothing the Roses can produce will match the high standards it has set.
The Roses have masses of fans that will either judge their work viciously on the basis that nothing will compare to their greatest work or ignore the shortcomings of their new music because the band have such profound influence.
The lyrics for ‘All for One’ are substandard. They don’t really mean anything, they’re monotonous and are often just one word lines. A younger and much less experienced band could probably do a better job. Though ‘Fools Gold’ (undoubtedly one of their best songs) has simplistic lyrics, it tells a story.
Nevertheless, the band are known for not following an agenda with their music. Their old sound is unable to be replicated because the tracks are simple but have a depth and meaning that make these songs so much more. Though ‘All For One’ is a good song, with themes of unity that comply to the band’s affirmations that they are the people’s band, it doesn’t reach this same standard of complexity.
“It may be one of those songs that needs to be listened to several times before it is judged”
That doesn’t mean it’s a total disappointment. The signature Squire solo is featured, Ian Brown sounds just like he did on the first album and so do the bold and spiraling riffs, punctuating drums and ‘baggy beat’ by Mani’s bass, as The Guardian termed it.
As a song on it’s own, regardless of who made it, it is short and sweet, rhythmic, fast paced and packs a punch. It may be one of those songs that needs to be listened to several times before it is judged.
Overall, the song is exciting, but it’s not great. After listening a few times, it can seem like a generic track. It might not capture you as easily as ‘Elephant Stone’, or be as striking as ‘Sally Cinnamon’, but it’s invigorating, especially towards the end.
“There are hopes that the new album altogether will resonate with The Stone Roses or be a great album of different sounds and styles“
Most reviews deem it to be unfulfilling, stale, impersonal and far from original. It does feel like a collaboration of their post break-up efforts, such as Ian Brown and John Squire’s average solo careers, rather than their previous unprecedented and formidable music.
The track can’t be compared with the likes of ‘I Wanna Be Adored’, but there are hopes that the new album altogether will resonate with The Stone Roses or be a great album of different sounds and styles. For now though, this song is a promising but flawed trailer of sorts, for what is to be played at the Etihad Stadium in June.
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.