Some Stones Are Better Left Unturned

Can this cartoonish Madchester parody really be the best they can muster?
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Ian Brown might claim otherwise, but stylistically the Stone Roses have always been revisionary as opposed to revolutionary. Their new single has been two decades in the making—can this cartoonish Madchester parody really be the best they can muster? At its best new single “All For One” sounds like the work of a caricature tribute act, at its worst a phoned-in advertising jingle for a New Year yoga bootcamp.

The lyrics are simple, presumably deliberately so, a tactic employed to transport the listener back to a rose-tinted past. But the repeated chorus of “All for one and one for all/ If we all join hands we’ll make a wall” is as lazy as it is inane. Roses apologists will counter that the band’s lyrics have always been underwhelming, as if a past history of lyrical incompetence somehow excuses present ineptitude. But this is a non-sequitur when you consider that golden greats like 1989’s “Made of Stone” and “Bye Bye Badman” were finely wrought lyrical gems.

Musically Reni’s drumming is un-extraordinary, and the seemingly rollicking guitar riff—the best part of the track by some margin—is actually a rip-off pilfered from The Fall’s “Squid Law”. And therein lies the problem. Though the Roses’ tradecraft has always revolved around them repackaging the past—re-channeling 60’s sounds and psychedelia through the prism of modern pop—they previously did so in an inimitable manner. But on “All For One” they’re a veiled echo of their past selves, a spent force out to make a quick buck off the back of their fans’ unshakable nostalgia.

In the context of their formidable canon “All For One” would have struggled to find a place on even a deluxe version of The Stone Roses or Second Coming. Some stones, it seems, are better left unturned.