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music reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Supergrass

Artist: Supergrass
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: April 2000

Review by LarryG
2 stars out of 4

With singer Gaz Coombes personifying youthful cockiness, Supergrass have made two very good rock records. They were sometimes silly like on I Should Coco's We're Not Supposed To; speeding up the tape to sound like Alvin & The Chipmunks. But Supergrass were very enjoyable, especially live, and filled with energy. Their new self titled CD lacks that energy. Sadly, Supergrass has decided to grow up. The band's pop skills are still evident but Supergrass, while always listenable, is too smooth and a little boring.

Supergrass' influences are very British pop bands like the Beatles and Kinks and Madness and Blur. On the new record, they borrow more from those bands' more introspective work. The music is based more around keyboards than guitars. With strings and Robert Coombes' keyboards, Moving has a full sound and a darkness appropriate to a song about "a low, low feeling around me" where "the days all feel the same." The chorus has guitar and more lively piano and drums, creating the music hall feeling of some of the songs from In It For The Money. But the end result is a song that's pleasant but empty. Similarly, the serious grittiness of Beautiful People doesn't really suit Supergrass. Mary and Your Love are well crafted, mid tempo songs but they're not that interesting. I don't want to overstate the band's leap in maturity. In It For The Money, which had the gorgeous ballad Late In The Day, was already more serious than their debut. Especially in its chorus, Shotover Hill has Late In The Day's simple beauty but its verses, with thundering, portentous drums, are a little overdramatic. Eon's core is like a beautiful John Lennon song but it's trapped inside an endless, bombasatic intro and fadeout. What Went Wrong(In Your Head) has more of the upbeat feel of the band's earlier work but never breaks loose, slowed down by choruses with Gaz singing, "God save the unstable" and "I'll need some salvation." Jesus Came From Outer Space is refreshingly relaxed and wacky. The lyrics are surprising preachy, with a My Sweet Lord type coda of "follow the leader" but the tone stays light. Pumping On Your Stereo is the CD's other uptempo song. Handclaps, fingersnaps and buoyant background vocals create a fun Rebel Rebel style glam rock feel. Pumping On Your Side has a fancy Henson studio video, so someone must have thought it could have been a hit. But after establishing a good mood, it never really goes anywhere.

Even without the energy of the band's first two records, Supergrass is worth buying. The band was more enjoyable when they were goofing around on their great single Alright. But the sophisticated sound is interestingly textured and melodic.



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