Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

On 22 Dreams, Paul Weller indulges just about every genre he's flirted with over the past 30 years—with the emphasis on "indulge." With The Jam, The Style Council, and a mostly stellar solo career, Weller has dabbled in everything from punk and folk to jazz and house, all cemented by his trademark gritty R&B.; Dreams starts out true to form with "Light Nights," a Cat Stevens-esque raga full of smoky ghosts and fiddles that climb around him like vines. It's immediately followed by the disc's title track, a rousing take on the classic Brit-rock perfected by Weller's most enduring influence, Small Faces. It's mostly downhill from there—and with 21 songs total, that's quite a drop. "Black River" is cabaret jazz that strains to relax. "Push It Along" is a generic soul stomper that dry-humps the line between homage and pastiche. If 22 Dreams is Weller's stab at a White Album, "111" is its "Revolution 9"—a synth collage that strives toward art in the worst possible way. Still, there's a sense of fun and wonder to 22 Dreams that keeps it from feeling pretentious—just not any less tedious. Weller's last album, 2005's invigorating As Is Now, was pumped out a mere year after its predecessor; if 22 Dreams is what happens when he takes a three-year break, here's hoping his next one is a quickie.


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