The World Is Yours

Ian Brown’s fifth solo album is about the big issues. And while he's picked all the right targets, lyrically and musically it’s still a bit disappointing.

Ian Brown’s fifth solo album is about the big issues, features some big stars, and is dominated by a big string section. Unfortunately, the big string section is featured on every single track, and there isn’t that much else to listen to.

Strings are great and all, but over-using them is no different from over-using a wah-wah pedal or slap-bass. As a result, there are no real stand-out musical hooks - it’s all beats, bass lines and lush strings and there’s little room for anything else to make its mark.

The big stars, meanwhile, are barely noticeable. Unsurprisingly, Andy Rourke (The Smiths) and Paul Ryder (The Happy Mondays) sound like session bass players, and the tracks Paul Cook and Steve Jones feature on are a million miles away from the Sex Pistols. Sinead O’Connor makes more of a mark on ‘Illegal Attacks’, with an almost whispered performance.

The big issues – homelessness, war, famine etc, are tackled with gusto but not that much sophistication. The album is filled with well worn platitudes like “Beauty’s only skin deep.” “We will be together until the end.” “We had it all and we threw it away.” Some refer to this sort of thing as “simplicity”, “directness” and “honesty”; it's certainly simple, but it’s a bit lazy.

But Brown’s also got a big heart, and while his turns of phrase, celebrity pals and string productions aren’t original, his positivity is. So fair dues for ‘Street Children’ in which Brown sweetly wishes he “had a home, with ten million rooms, I'd open up the doors and let the street children through" and kudos for ‘Illegal Attacks’, a no-holds-barred protest song about the war on terror. Brown and his big guns have picked all the right targets, but lyrically and musically it’s a bit disappointing.

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