Prior to 2008's 22 Dreams, Paul Weller was shorthand for stalwart rock & roll, never disappointing but rarely challenging, either. With 22 Dreams, he reconnected with his spirit of adventure -- the thing that drove him to split up the Jam at their peak to form the Style Council -- and created a rich pastoral double album that thrived on risk. Buzzing with guitars and gurgling effects, and built upon a succession songs that barely crest the two-minute mark, Wake Up the Nation doesn't share much with 22 Dreams, apart from that sense of adventure with Weller cramming a suite's worth of twists into a song. As packed as these tunes are, they're drawn with crisp lines; for as busy as these are, nothing feels cluttered, they're all teeming with life. Many of the left turns arrive via the arrangements -- witness how everything careens out of control after the chorus of "Grasp & Still Connect," the elastic psychedelia of "Andromeda," the updated New Orleans shuffle of "Trees' -- or the unexpected collaborations, whether it's the tightly wound reunion with the Jam's Bruce Foxton on "Fast Car/Slow Traffic" or bringing in My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields to craft the dense dangerous heartbeat of "7&3 Is the Strikers Name," but this isn't window-dressing: the entire effect is 22 Dreams in reverse, contracting where its predecessor expanded, substituting introspection for action, swapping contemplation for excitement. Wake Up the Nation pulsates with an energy considerably different than the stomping rock & roll of As Is Now. That was all musical muscle, but this is music of the mind that remains fiercely visceral, music that feels of a piece of Weller's entire body of work, but is quite unique in its execution and impact. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Spin - "One cut destined for any career overview: 'Aim High,' a psychedelic-soul rave-up with a block-rockin' beat."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.94) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t's the album where he appears to have learned to embrace the eccentric and visionary in himself, and publicly declare that, from now on, there are no musical boundaries."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.57) - Ranked #6 in Mojo's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2010" -- "[T]his was all about Weller forging ahead and plotting a new path. The result: his boldest album to date."
Pitchfork (Website) - "Scattered throughout are everything from free jazz flourishes and psych-freakouts like 'Find the Torch, Burn the Plans' to introspective Dylan ditties like 'Grasp & Still Connect,' and, on 'Up the Dosage,' even a bit of disco."
Clash (magazine) - "Right from the first smash of piano keys it's clear that this offering is fast-paced, floor filling rock 'n' roll that falls somewhere in the space between The Jam and The Style Council..."
Uncut (magazine) (p.80) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]here's nothing reactionary or nostalgic about the chemical guitar sounds fizzing around him....He is now officially on a hot streak."
Uncut (magazine) (p.37) - Ranked #3 in Uncut's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2010" -- "[A] kaleidoscopic reassertion of Weller as one of Britain's most free-thinking musicians..."