Essential New Music: Paul Weller’s “Jawbone: Music From The Film”

He’s now well into his fourth decade as a recording artist, yet the Modfather shows no sign of resting upon his bespoke laurels. Following up 2014’s Saturn’s Pattern, Paul Weller has finished a new studio album (due for imminent release) and started writing material for a follow-up. Somehow, in the midst of all this fevered creativity, he’s found time to write and record his first movie soundtrack for British boxing flick Jawbone. Don’t go expecting any rousing Rocky-style histrionics—this is a resolutely off-kilter, experimental (for the most part) project. Weller’s allowed his more freeform side to take over, often to startling effect. Opening track “Jimmy/Blackout,” is an epic 21-minute impressionistic freak fest, all burbling analog synths, discord, angst and dread that morphs into an ethereal, echoing psychedelic hymn. It’s as if he’s spent more time than might be healthy with Jack Nitzsche’s Performance soundtrack. Elsewhere there’s barnstorming, Zeppelin-esque psych-rock guitar wig outs, hypnotic, percussive jazz workouts and some fragile, Nick Drake-style acoustic melancholia. It’s never going to set the charts alight, but Weller obsessives should take it to heart.

—Neil Ferguson