With the clean-cut rolling repeating riff and the longing tunnel-echo vocal hook, All For One marks the newest material from The Stone Roses since B-sides to ‘Ten Storey Love Song’ were released in March 1995. It’s a catchy song. There’s a familiarity to it, which is what the band were hoping for. It passes as a Stone Roses song in the first roll of the riff and that is something wonderful to behold. The lead guitarist, John Squire, has retained a strong riff which painted the band’s earlier material with melodic grace. Reni does a great job with the drums. It makes the song feel like much more of a modern rock anthem with a driving force. Mani on bass sounds repetitive; it feels like he has a lot more to give. It doesn’t have any underlying gravelly glory like the bassline of ‘She Bangs The Drums’ but it matches the rock-n-roll feel of the drums.
There’s a really interesting break towards the end of the song with heavily modulated drums and some psychedelic majesty from Squire. The song’s more paisley-orientated side comes heavily from the vocals. Ian Brown still nails the moaning wails which have hallmarked so many great Stone Roses and solo tracks. There’s a great football-chanting nature to the singing which was embodied so well in some of their best work. However, the lyrics hold the song’s weakness.
“All for one/One for all/If we all join hands we’ll make a wall” resonates like a train through a tunnel. It sounds thunderous when you hear it, but once it passes you see the vacuous space it leaves behind. It may as well have been written as the UN Peace envoy theme tune. There’s a sneaking sarcastic bitterness in some of the lyrics; “All one family” particularly is said with some sneering Mancunian emphasis. They haven’t reached the dirty pit of lyrical gold that songs like ‘I Am The Resurrection’ or the thumping throes of ‘Ten Storey Love Song’.
21 years and the band’s enduring following seems to have built rather than wavered. There was a buzz around the single’s release. The ominous halved-lemon billboards in Manchester and the fleeting snippets of conversations heard by fans at gigs of some soon-to-be-released news rose up anticipation far and wide. Perhaps it is this anticipation that has drawn out a lot of criticism from their fans. The expectations of 21 years are too much for any band to fulfil and one track is not enough to judge the comeback of the seminal Mancunian legends. All For One might not be what the world was waiting for but The Roses are not a tribute to their past selves, they’re a band finally in motion and it’s something beautiful to observe.