On Sunset (Deluxe)
In 1989, The Style Council came to a deflating close with their fifth studio album Modernism: A New Decade. The record was an early sight of Paul Weller’s appetite for reinvention and reflected his growing enthusiasm for house music. As prescient as that was, heralding British rock and pop’s new interest in club culture, Polydor chose not release the album and Weller was left to dissolve his band. Three decades later, The Modfather has returned to the label, and after a fine run of questing albums that began with 2008’s 22 Dreams, his ability to reset and reshape with every record continues to delight, even if it’s no longer a surprise. Weller’s at his most playful and flighty on opener “Mirror Ball.” The seven-minute ode to music’s power of escapism cross-pollinates disco, field recordings, electronic abstraction, G-Funk, and six-string discord. From there, his love of funk, soul, and R&B is displayed as vividly as it’s ever been in his 21st-century output, while measures of psychedelia, folk, music hall, baroque pop, and, yep, house are swirled in with laboratory precision and skill. Amid all this adventure sits a lyricist at his warmest and most considered, ruminating on self-control (“Equanimity”), finding peace with himself (“Old Father Tyme”), and tapping into his reserves of righteous indignation to swipe at materialism (“More”) and the elites (“Rockets”).