Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Style Council

  • Introducing the Style Council [Polydor, 1983] B
  • Internationalists [Geffen, 1985] B+
  • The Singular Adventures of the Style Council [Polydor, 1989] B

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Introducing the Style Council [Polydor, 1983]
A rather lengthy "mini-LP" continues the strange and touching saga of Paul Weller, who gave up the Jam because fronting Britain's best-loved band had turned into a superstar routine. Here he records relaxed lounge-soul tunes with a keyb-playing partner and as with the Jam's rock tunes it's unclear to a mere Yank what the big deal is. Weller's unabashed working-class leftism is a treasure, and his charm is undeniable at any distance. But there has to be undeniable music in here somewhere as well. Doesn't there? B

Internationalists [Geffen, 1985]
One reason Paul Weller's rock and roll never convinced non-Brits was his reedy voice, which he has no trouble bending to the needs of the fussy phonographic cabaret he undertook so quixotically and affectedly after retiring the Jam. I'm sure the move has cost him audience, but the new format suits the specifics of his socialism. A self-made Fabian rather than a would-be demagogue, he hopes to inspire militance with description and analysis. My Ever Changing Moods was so moody it flirted with incoherence, but here the politics are concealed on the surface of a fluent if not seamless Europop that goes down easy. B+

The Singular Adventures of the Style Council [Polydor, 1989]
Because I thought it was my problem that I'd never listened hard after Internationalists, I put heavy time into these hits, if that's what they really were. And slowly it began to dawn on me that maybe Paul Weller's motives for disbanding the Jam weren't all that pure--that he knew damn well pop smoothies were taking over from guitar bands. Tuneful, sometimes memorable, and often far from stupid, this Eurowise white funk comes from the same place musically as Culture Club and George Michael. Only it's not quite as good. B