The sleeves have been a dead giveaway haven't they? As have the shots of the reconvened lads. The thought that John Squire looks at the sleeves of the two comeback singles thus far and is happy is quite staggering really. The sleeves look like they were knocked up in about 20 minutes in MSPaint by a particularly bored intern. As such they summate the laziness, cynicism and cheapskate bankraidness of the Roses 'comeback' perfectly. The equally revealing new shots of the Roses show middle aged men having a laugh. Nowt wrong with that but if the modus operandi of making new music was simply to say bye to the wives and kids, tool along to a studio, smoke shitloads of weed and jam . . . well, I could say that's not going to work anymore but clearly it will work for them, as there's so many dewy-eyed nostalgic pricks out there willing to waive any old shit they churn out through, giving it a pass cos it's by these 'legends'. The fans know this. The Stone Roses themselves know this. And I think it's that utterly naked cynicism, the purely mercenary intent, that's so startling about these singles. It's the only way to explain songs of such dreary, unedited flabbiness. Utter contempt for the fans, safe in the knowledge that the fans will bend over backwards to like anything the Roses can still muster.
"Beautiful Thing" is not as bad as 'All For One' but really this is akin to saying Hitler wasn't as bad as Stalin, or dysentery is a 'massive improvement' on smallpox. We're still talking about a track that sounds like that most horrible combination, a jam that should've been cut to fuck, but a jam that's been recorded with a slick, horribly 90s sheen to eliminate any actual tactile rawness or feel. Given the paltriness of ideas on display, it's also 6 minutes too long. What 'saves' it in the ears of those desperate fans who'll cling to ANYTHING they can remember, at least as a sign of life, is the hook. It's a shit hook, an obvious hook, a catchy hook in a chlamydia kinda way, and the Roses pootle around waiting to reiterate it whenever they can. The pootling is utterly dreadful. There's a guitar solo from Squire that's so appallingly inept and awful you just can't believe they're surrounded by so many yes-men that no-one sidled up and had a word in his shell like 'sorry John, you might want to think about going for another take of that'. Jaw-droppingly bad. Mani & Reni are locked in to their usual groove, aiming for Liebezeit/Czukay spaciness and punch but flailing a little like an offcut even Kula Shaker would reject. Brown's voice sounds autotuned a little, and when its melodic failings become in danger of becoming too apparent the producer smartly multitracks the fuck out of it to fill out the sound. There's a heavily-reverbed section that threatens to be interesting for a millisecond before it all plummets back into the same plateau of ordure the rest of the song bubbles along in. To nail what's really wrong though, just dig the lyrics and Brown's vocal. In the verses he rap-sings like fucking Robbie Williams, like what he is essentially - someone's auld dad trying to sound relevant. That limply attitudinal 6-syllable-then-5-syllables-EMF-Unbelievable-meter all bad singers cop when they're trying to sound like they still live in a street and not a gated community.
Sister must have missed ya
I don't wanna steal your shine
There's method to my madness
Yes, there's reason to my rhyme
It's a beautiful thing
And I say bye bye
It's a beautiful thing
So I stay so high
Brown can't be happy with these surely. The Ian Brown of 89 would vomit at the thought of what the Roses have become. But the pervasive feel of 'that'll do' suffuses everything the reunited Roses have given us, the rather sad reality that lame attempts at reconjuring a loose-limbed e'd-up wicket-keeper-hat-wearing vibe are really all the Roses' collective lack-of-imagination can manage. I don't resent the Roses their bankraid, I hope this secures them the pension they're after. But don't anyone pretend that what's going on here has anything to do with music. 'Beautiful Thing' and 'All For One', in their lazy attempts to sound like old Stone Roses records, may well win over some fans dopey enough to think the Roses were ever just about the music. There'll be plenty of other fans out there who see both these comeback singles as a massive betrayal, a shitstain on their recollections.
Not me you understand, I always thought they were cack. For me, these singles only confirm that. But I take no joy in seeing people's fond memories being trashed like this. Honest. 2/10