For their 25th anniversary, Stereophonics were all set to compile a second greatest hits collection until singer Kelly Jones rummaged in his archive and found several unused old songs to contribute to a new album. Thus, Oochya! offers an occasionally uneven mix of their trusty hit formula (equal bits of the Faces and Oasis with a smidgeon of U2) and some newer mild diversions.
Among the latter are raucous opener Hanging on Your Hinges – a spikier take on ZZ Top – and the candidly autobiographical Right Place Right Time, which adds a nostalgic colliery brass band sound to Jones’s reflections on the highs and lows of a life in rock. Otherwise Jones’s lyrical concerns mostly concern relationships, hope and a prevailing desire for escape – and at 15 tracks long, the cliches creep in. In the lovely Forever, Jones dreams of a flight away from all his troubles; he does the same in the equally tuneful When You See It. The Free-like Running Round My Brain is 1970s rock by numbers and filler such as Made a Mess of Me should have been left on the cutting-room floor.
As ever, the best songs hit a reliably sweet spot between the emotional and the anthemic. A lovely, shimmering riff propels Do Ya Feel My Love, and Every Dog Has Its Day packs soul, keyboards and strings into a chorus made to be sung by swaying crowds. They’re past their best nowadays, but this is a decent effort after a quarter of a century.