Sound — 6
As far as the sound goes, this is certainly one of Stereophonics' funkier efforts. This album, in a similar, yet less successful way to "Just Enough Education To Perform" marks the band's gradual evolution from the youthful early years to the more wistful recent albums. The album opens with "Help Me (She's Out Of Her Mind", a track which features the Stereophonics trademarks of a driving guitar riff and throaty Kelly Jones vocals. However, the song moves at such an uncertain pace that it loses its potential as a rock fist-pumper and becomes dreary. The next song, "Maybe Tomorrow" was one of the single released from "You Gotta Go There To Come Back", and to me this seems a strange choice. Though the song does successfully convey numerous aspects of Jones' vocal quality, it again simply ambles along and never really picks up. "Madame Helga", track three, is perhaps where the album finally starts to make progress; this is everything the opening track should have been. Funky riffwork, powerful vocals and pounding drums confirm this one as a highlight. The really positive things about this album though come in the softer tracks; "Getaway" and "Nothing Precious At All" being the favourites. There are wonderful little piano and acoustic guitar lines to be found here which somehow manage to convey the nostalgic energy of "Word Gets Around" whilst setting up the premise for later efforts i.e. "Dakota". Penultimate "High As The Ceiling" stands out as surely the funkiest track here, as palm muting mixed with a phaser effect grab the listener's attention from the outset before a catchy chorus is introduced. The album closes with "Since I Told You It's Over", an explicit prequel to the aforementioned "Dakota". This is a moving song, beginning acoustically and then evolving into a string and brass-laden ballad. Overall, the sound of this album doesn't particularly impress. More than any other Stereophonics record, this simply feels like a collection of random songs, rather than an album. Whilst a few songs, mostly the softer ones, do seem to fit together, they are disrupted and overshadowed by a few mediocre attempts at funk-rock.
Lyrics — 6
Kelly Jones is a very interesting songwriter, he manages to make his lyrics sound impressive due to his excellent rock voice, but largely they are unremarkable. No lines really jump out here in a positive or negative way. Rhyming "over" and "clover" in the final track is questionable, it generally seems as though Jones is writing to rhyme here, rather than to write a story as would be seen on the band's previous albums. Jones' voice is very distinctive, though. His rock n' roll growl really makes songs such as "Madame Helga", though "Getaway" does evidence his softer side. Some listeners may feel that Jones' voice grates on them after a few songs, but to more hardened fans this will not be an issue.
Overall Impression — 5
I really don't like it when bands release filler albums, which is surely why I don't particularly like "You Gotta Go There To Come Back". The songs just don't work together, or with the title, or even with the artwork. One may expect an album of nostalgic, softer songs and indeed, when these expectations are met the album hits it's peak. But an album that opens with a misfit song, and a mediocre one at that is always going to struggle. This is a reasonable addition to the Stereophonics back-catalogue, but I would not for a moment think that any of these songs would stand the test of time and I highly doubt that Jones and co. Still perform them live. It's not awful, but it is highly uneventful, completely disjointed and ultimately difficult.