Stereophonics’ sixth album is a two-fisted collection of stadium rock that turns the amps up louder than they’ve ever been. Soaring grunge riffs and Kelly Jones’ most outstretched vocals in years dominate the high-energy affair. Pull the Pin strongly expands the group’s catalog of inspired, unhesitant rock tunes even further.
After Kelly Jones got his acoustic, solo album off his chest, Stereophonics were back in the studio getting back to the main line of multi-dimensional pop grunge that built their reputation. They afforded themselves a high production value in making Pull the Pin, and they’ve earned it. The opener, “Soldiers Make Good Targets” begins a distorted radio transmission before dropping into a heel-stomping riff. Jones then wails on the chorus in harmony with himself with rare strain. It sets the tone of the band’s most cranked-up album to date. “Pass the Buck” spews an unhinged drum intro eventually coasting into Jones’ scream again. “It Means Nothing” calms Pull the Pin down a bit on a chugging, multi-speed ballad. “Bank Holiday” cranks the knobs back up then “Daisy Lane” relaxes as a more poetic shuffle. With more precision than ever, the band fluctuates without leaving any of the emotion behind.
The second half of the album is just as varied, from feverish anthems to back porch acoustic lament. Guitars squelch and saunter, while the scratch in Jones’ voice compels at several volumes. “My Friends” is a bar-rock gem a lot like those on their debut, Word Gets Around. “I Could Lose Ya” has more of a homemade garage sound, while “Bright Red Star” is an acoustic relief of all the tension. Immediately following, though, “Lady Luck” builds to a runaway alt-stomp with no hesitation. “Drowning”, the longest track on the album at around five minutes, completes Pull the Pin on a semi-sour, but loud, note with another gripping, intense rhythm and guitar work.
While Stereophonics haven’t had the smoothest of rides through their careers, they’ve been able to rely on Jones’ vocals to carry them throughout. Here, they’re at the top of his lungs, in the back of his throat, and generally every corner of the room as the rest of the band joins him in massive fashion. It’s less risky than some of their previous work, but unquestionably elevates their standard.