The Press Article
Life On Other Planets

Gaz, Danny and Mick may only be in their mid-20s, but they play like they're 50; luckily in this case, that's a good thing. The sounds of '70s Britrock are alive and well on Supergrass' fourth album, Life on Other Planets, which is ripe with strong overtones of T-Rex, David Bowie, The Beatles and The Kinks.
The tongue-in-cheek style rendered throughout the album is very reminiscent of the light, humorous tinges that permeated their 1995 debut I Should Coco, but the musical stylings are very different. The songs are more complex and move varied. Opening with a spaced-out, eerie calliope, Life on Other Planets begins with "Za", a lively piano and drum-driven bit of silliness, featuring the title in the background as Danny and Mick sing "z-z-z-z-z-z-zaaaaaaaaa" over Gaz's rich vocals.

While the album may commence with a quirky touch of psychedelia, Supergrass proves that they can still straight-up rock with the second track, "Rush Hour Soul," as well as with "Never Done Nothing Like That Before," which unfolds as a raucous, noise-filled bash sung with an almost mocking British accent. Supergrass has always had spunk, and they display it in spades, and even sound happy while singing about a supernatural murder victim in the ska-influenced "Brecon Beacons." In fact, it's these kinds of stylistic changes -- from psychedelia to rock to ska -- that characterize Life on Other Planets.

The boys continue their sonic hodge-podge on "Seen the Light," which could easily be an unreleased T-Rex track, Gaz doing a dead-on Marc Bolan impersonation complete Bolan-esque erotic, drawn-out "oooh"s and "aaah"s. "Funniest Thing" and "La Song" are reminiscent of the syncopation and rhythm of ex-Pixie Black Francis/Frank Black, and while these tracks may pay homage to other artists, Supergrass makes them all their own as their "never take anything seriously" attitude shines through.

As their name suggests, Supergrass isn't adverse to taking a toke now and again, and their albums are rarely complete without some sort of stoner anthem. This time around it's the second half of the jaunty, whimsical "Evening Of The Day," where the band procliams "he's so stoned doesn't even know what he's on about." Likewise, the music on this track equally stoney.

The album's final song, "Run," sounds like Wings gone bad. Yes, I know -- as if Wings could be any worse. With a horribly grating keyboard sound riding over the song, "Run" proves to be a hard listen. It's an unfortunate end to what is an otherwise excellent album (although one cool thing is that they end "Run" with the exact same calliope sound that kicked off "Za," so it brings the entire CD full-circle in some strange, trippy way).

Those of you with the US version of the CD/CD-ROM will be privy to a special CD key which will allow you to open some special goodies, including a video for "Rush Hour Soul", live tracks from a Shepard's Bush show in England and some live video from a performance in Paris' Elysee Montmartre. Also included on the disc are the videos for "Grace" and "Seen the Light." All in all it's not a bad set of extras, and it may even be worth hunting down a US import if you're a Supergrass fan living outside of the States.

Life on Other Planets mixes ska, '70s rock, bouncy Britpop, and covers it all with a sheen of psychedelic tomfoolery. It's an eclectic mix to say the least, but Supergrass has never been a band willing to steer away from eclecticism. The album doesn't really have a binding constant, but that works for Supergrass. Gaz and the boys have always been about tongue-in-cheek merriment and, with a few exceptions, Life on Other Planets is perfectly witty, fun and stupid in that good Supergrass kind of way.

Tal Blevins, - 05 March 2003