The Press Article
Life On Other Planets
Back when they recorded their classic debut album, 1995’s “I Should Coco,” Supergrass were the naughtiest schoolkids to grab the mic since Angus Young was in short pants. They sang about weed and cocaine like they’d just discovered it last week, raided British rock history from the Beatles to the Buzzcocks as if it were an unlocked liquor cabinet, and got over on punk irreverence rather thank skills, like Sum 41 with even goofier accents and a groovier record collection. The only real “chops” they had were the truly awe-inspiring hair headphones that grew down over their ears.
On their fourth album, Life on Other Planets, they’ve got chops to spare. Life is sort of a tribute to the intergalactic hippie kitsch of ‘70s glam rock- on “Za,” singer/guitarist Gaz Coombes exhorts us to “Get it on!” over splashy T. Rex guitar licks, ready to walk a light-year in Marc Bolan’s platform boots. “Grace” uses piano as a rhythm instrument like nobody since Mott the Hoople, and “Prophet 15”- on which the ghosts of Oscar Wilde, John Belushi, and Che Guevara visit Coombes while he’s blowing out his mind in a car- is portentous psych-pomp worthy of Bowie at his most Bowie-listic.
The band’s harmonies are creamier than ever, and the guitar solos splash around in the pools of fuzz and retro echo with all the zing that went missing on 2000’s comparatively dour Supergrass. Unfortunately, Coombes seems to have the glam era’s fuzzy-brained approach to the pop songwriting nailed a bit too well. “Can’t Get Up” chain smokes one lonely-highway, band-on-the-run cliché after another, while “Seen the Light” rhymes “I’m a rock ‘n’ roll singer in a rock ‘n’ roll band” with “try to understand,” as if we wouldn’t otherwise. Swiping trash-boogie moves from all the old dudes pays dividends on this staggeringly catchy record; hopefully, next time Supergrass blast off to check for life on Mars, they’ll leave their forebears’ lazy lyricism back at ground control.
Alex Pappademas, Spin Magazine - April 2003