The wealth of influences evident on Paul Weller’s new album shouldn’t come as a surprise, said Michael Spies in The Village Voice. Over the past 30 years, the former frontman of the Jam and Style Council has experimented with nearly every kind of pop music—including punk, folk, and house. But it was complete madness for Weller to attempt on 22 Dreams to “pay homage to every sound that ever caught his ear.” This concept album is incredibly self-indulgent, said John Lewis in Uncut. But it’s also Weller’s “most adventurous” in years, intricately designed to chronicle a year in the English songwriter’s life. Weller has always flirted with arcane genres, but ventures far outside his comfort zone here. “Song for Alice,” a bluesy, free-form tribute to John Coltrane’s wife, features a harp, arpeggiated piano, and Robert Wyatt on a hushed trumpet. “Lullaby für Kinder” is a tender, melancholic instrumental. In a way, 22 Dreams is Weller’s “‘White Album,’ a sprawling, epic, and compelling song cycle that channels a century of influences.” But 22 Dreams can’t compare to that Beatles’ masterpiece, said Jason Heller in The Onion. Though Weller maintains a “sense of fun and wonder” throughout, his futile attempts at art will hardly appeal to the masses.
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