The Press Article
Road To Rouen
Blowing the whistle.
Is this a cryptic farewell from Britpop's stalwarts?
You've got to feel for Supergrass. By far and away the most fun and musically savvy of the Britpop set, in the last decade they've delivered a string of glam-spanking albums - not least 2002's shockingly underrated Life On Other Planets - and a near-faultless best-of. Still, they only seem to register in the public mind thanks to the tabloid antics of drummer Danny Goffey and their Oxford proximity to fellow Parlophonians Radiohead.
Fascinatingly, for the first time, Road To Rouen lets us in on what this notoriously biz-phobic quartet make of such a woeful miscarriage of justice. Recorded far from prying industry eyes in - yes - Normandy, it reeks of disenchantment from the title track down.
"Commercial suicide/'Kiss Of Life'/Don't let it bother you/Have you got what it takes/To get where you want?" howls Gaz Coombes in the opening "Tales Of Endurance (Parts 4, 5 & 6)" in a brutal acknowledgement of the chart failure of their last single. And, immediately, you realise that the carefree chipmunks of 1997's In It For The Money have finally grown the fangs with which to savage their industry tormentors.
If the mood lightens with dreamy single "St Petersburg" (an update of "It's Not Me") and the "A Day In The Life"-ish gem "Sad Girl", the black clouds return in earnest for the title track. "I'm isolated/I'm getting nowhere fast/There's no direction/So where do I go?" sighs Coombes while the vicious "Kick In The Teeth" ("Making it hard to smile") borrows - pointedly, one suspects - from the Beatles' "If I Needed Someone".
If all of this suggest some non-negotiable schism within the ranks, the final songs only compound it. "Low C" is, effectively, a world-weary retort to "Alright"'s youthful brio ("Things we used to have/Are fading all too fast"), while an exquisite "Fin" sounds, as the title suggests, as close to the final word as you can get without spelling it out. All in all, another album of low-key brilliance. Yet it's hard to escape the impression that, tragically for Supergrass, it feels like the end of the road.
Q & A - GAZ COOMBES
Uncut: Was there a feeling this was a new start after last year's best of.
Coombes: Yeah. To be honest it's been a difficult couple of years. A lot of sh*t has happened. I lost my mum and we've had some rough times as a band too. It's funny. You spend 10 years together, see the world, and it's difficult to come to terms with what you've been through. It's probably the weirdest time Supergrass has ever had. But you get through it.
"Tales Of Endurance", "Kick In The Teeth" and "Fin" suggest a disillusionment unusual for Supergrass. Is there a split on the cards?
Nah. Those songs are more about getting things out of your system. We don't see this as the end, not at all. I'd like to think it's the start of a whole bunch of fresh albums. I consider the LP more like a french movie. It ends, but it doesn't mean there won't be another one!
Paul Moody, Uncut - September 2005