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.