The Reader Review
Road To Rouen
In all honesty I must confess that 'Life On Other Planets' was a bit disappointing to me, so when I read that the new album would sound very different, I didn't know what to expect at all.
New CD 'Road To Rouen' is definitely completely different than the previous albums by 'Supergrass'. But on the other hand it's not! On first listening I immediately noticed most songs are slower and the rocking parts we know from other albums are almost absent.
On second listening, and probably swallowing initial disappointment, I started noticing the richness the new album displays. The songs are solidly build and have great arrangements and an airy feeling. Where earlier on the band used dynamics frequently to create a certain 'feel', they now slow down, to create a similar kind of tension.
Musically I tend to say they've mixed the best ingredients of last two albums 'Supergrass' and 'Life On Other Planets' to a great, more consistent sound. Some tracks have amazing orchestration, which make it sound like 'Love', Brian Wilson's 'Smile' or an updated version of 'Nights In White Satin', while other songs definitely have roots in the first half of the 70's.
This album, again, will grow on you, every time you'll play it. The band has definitely matured and delivered an album which is both surprising and showing 'Supergrass' is still relevant, despite the absence of chart smashers.
Here is an imprerssion of what to expect:
Opening track Tales Of Endurance Pt 4,5 and 6 starts off with an intro which could easily be '16 Horsepower' or 'Woven Hand', combining acoustic guitar with slideguitar. But after the first few bars a definite 'Supergrass'-bridge is added, ending all possible confusion. The song then evolves in a nicely orchestrated song, reminding me of the haydays of 'Love' and last years 'Smile' by Brian Wilson, somewhat suddenly switching into a far modern sound, somewhat resembling 'Franz Ferdinand' with chord-like playing towards the end.
New single St Petersburg has a slight Jazzy touch with an overall 70's pop feel you might compare with albums like McCartney's 'Ram' and some choral atmospheres as found on Lennon's 'Imagine' and 'Mind Games' a.o.
Sad Girl is a 'Supergrass'-era song with definite 70's touches added to it.
The slightly modern orchestrated Roxy is another 'Supergrass'-sounding song, which slowly builds with psychedelic sounding effects, making it sound a bit like 'I Am The Wallrus' for a while. You can definitely sense the spirit of 'Smile' floating around here. Another great song, which grows every time you'll play it.
Cheeky humour returns with the happy sounding Coffee In The Pot, a Bossa Nova rhythmed, Jazzy instrumental intermezzo, lasting little under 2 minutes.
Title track Road To Rouen is definitely the most heavy track on the album. It's rocking, with a grooving funky feel, you might know from early 70's hits like the 'Shaft' theme. Truly great and one of the tracks I keep on playing.
Kick In The Teeth is another 'Supergrass'-era song, slowing down the flow again. Just like Low C, which adds the same 70's touches to it's 'Supergrass'-era sound, as 'St Petersburg' did to his.
Fin is the suitably named light and slow end to this album, using acoustic instruments, synth and woodblock/rhythm-box, combined with flanger and echo-effects.
'Supergrass' has just entered a new and exciting era.
Leo Hoek van Dijke - 08 July 2005