Embroiled in a record company dispute, it took The Stone Roses five and a half years to follow up their debut. By the time Second Coming was released, the Brit-pop movement that the band had helped to inspire was huge, and expectations were intense for the pioneering band. But the band delivered a bloated album that eschews the jangly guitars of the debut for an arena rock sound. The change of style is jarring, but John Squire is a talented guitarist, and it’s fun to hear him rip through Led Zeppelin inspired riff rockers.
The issue with Second Coming is the 73 minute running time, with most of the tracks running 6 minutes; there are some excellent tracks here, but they’re buried amongst a sludgy trudge of an album. Opener ‘Breaking Into Heaven’ is excellent, an 11 minute epic that slowly rises from an insistent groove, building into a huge memorable chorus. ‘Ten Storey Love Song’ is reminiscent of the winning sound on the band’s debut, with jangly guitars and warm harmonies, while the single ‘Love Spreads’ is riff-heavy and intense. But the gimmick of 87 short hidden tracks concealing the throwaway instrument ‘The Foz’ seems symptomatic of the shortcomings of Second Coming overall.
There’s more good music on Second Coming than the 5/10 rating implies, yet it’s a very frustrating record – in 1994 The Stone Roses still had a strong album in them, but Second Coming badly needs an editor.