I think a lot of people are aware of Supergrass, without being aware that they are a band truly worth caring about. They have a new album called Diamond Hoo Ha, their sixth (check out the beautiful airbrushing on the cover), and while it’s not their best work, it once again showcases their many strengths. For example: They’ve always been reliable for a killer riff, but with the dense riffage on Diamond Hoo Ha, they are in a way encroaching on White Stripes territory, succeeding where another band might embarrass themselves. Gaz is still a true showman on vocals, nowhere more apparent than the shameless Bowie-isms on “Rebel in You.” It’s worth waiting three years for 11 new Supergrass songs, because of the implicit guarantee that each one will be elaborate and intricate, executed with care and finesse, and exist in the context of the history of rock music.
[I will try to add an mp3 here soon.]
The band got their start in the mid-90s Brit-pop scene, but even from the beginning, they were more like a cross of the hyper-melodic adrenalized pop of the Damned and the Buzzcocks with the cuteness of the Monkees than they were like their more overblown contemporaries. Debut I Should Coco is the place to go for that sound in its earliest incarnation. Follow-up In It for the Money does the expected by adding horns and more acoustic guitar, but it’s a stronger batch of songs, probably their best to date (and since then, they’ve often suggested a great 70s band still relevant in the modern era). The difficult (and self-titled) third album is also strong, but for all its beauty (a more pastoral and somber work) it somehow always fails to connect. That album started a pattern of moving back and forth between the reflective and the energetic on each subsequent release, and fourth album Life on Other Planets couldn’t possibly be more energetic, like Rubber Soul turned up to 11. It plays like a headlong rush toward an increasingly more hummable melody, and the fact that it doesn’t collapse under its own giddiness is a testament to the band’s talents. Album number five, Road to Rouen, is a great title and also some sort of masterpiece. It may be a cosmic fluke that its 35 minutes weren’t pressed on vinyl in 1972, but it’s not an album that sounds like it’s locked in the past. Its extremes of sadness and joy are potent in the 21st century in which they were conceived. In a nutshell: I love this band.