Stone Roses singles are like buses; preferable only to a long walk in the rain. Last month saw the release of their first single in 20 something years, All For One, which is so bad it kinda hurts, so really, for their second song in however long - the 7 minute long Beautiful Thing - I had low hopes.
I will say something. Those Stone Roses have upped their game a bit from before, although the end result still leaves a bit to be desired. Beautiful Thing's main verses are every bit as bad as those in All For One, and again, it's left for Johnny Squire to salvage it with some guitar magic, which he does a fairly decent job of. The highlight of this song is every single second that doesn't feature Ian Brown's boring vocals - the Happy Mondays groove they have going on at about the 2:20 mark is nearly a patch on the real thing, and the Revolver-influenced guitar solo which fills out most the song's last three minutes is pretty good (if a tad OTT on the self indulgence), and a lot of the instrumentals capture what made the Roses pretty darn good in the first place; it's got a real groove to it, and is basically just pretty fun.
The naffness of the lyrics is kinda unescapable though; "method to my madness, reason to my rhyme," says Brown. The cliches sliding outta his mouth like an Ian Brown solo album sliding down the charts, his lyrics make a desperate plea for a Messianic mythology, a cry for attention and self-importance. And this song features a lot of naff, self-mythologising lyrics. As many as you can jam into 7 minutes, really.
But like I say; this is a much more solid effort than All For One, and whilst this would sound awful (AWFUL, I say), as a radio edit, over its 7 minute sprawl there are good moments. Listening to it isn't a grind, like All For One. It's enjoyable, it's fun, it's groovy, it's a little bit nauseating, but it's alright, y'know? It's so much less than you'd expect from a band who are supposed to be one of the greatest, but it's a lot more than their Make America Great Again Squid Lord pop number that aired last year. So maybe, going back on my sentence in the first paragraph, Beautiful Thing is preferable to a long walk in the rain.
Words: Calum Cashin