The Reader Review
After what seemed like an eternity, we finally got the new Supergrass album recently. I'm 22 and got in Supergrass when Lenny came out. Having been extremely impressed with Wait For The Sun, I realised that this was the best band in a long time, and have since bought (and loved) all their releases.
This year's singles, Pumping On Your Stereo and Moving had both done well and to these ears sounded like little adverts for a much greater work. The B-side were good, very 70's glam rock, and I was expecting something of a classic album. I rushed out on a rainy Monday to get my "Limited edition" copy and promptly headed back home like an excited little puppy. Here's what I found...
Thought it a bit odd to start the album with this, but it's a really good track with some outstanding vocals from Gaz, and many a bass player has commented on Mick's creative playing on this song. Surely this album will be a stonker!
Keeping the rhythms of Moving going and with some nice harpsichord, this song is a grower. Lyrically it seems a little weak, but "feel" has always been Supergrass' strong point. After these first two tracks the album seems to have a melancholy air about it, which takes a bit of getting used to after their earlier stuff, which was more immediate. Not bad at all.
What Went Wrong (In Your Head)
Another depressing song, maybe this is what the NME were talking about. Danny's lyrics here are more focused than some songs, and the music fits well with the theme. My main problem with it is the la la la's which make the song sound unfinished and almost demo-ish. There are some nice acoustic guitar parts, and the outro is cool too, but overall this has B-side written all over it, certainly not up to the usual album track standard. I was getting a little worried at this point...Not a terrible track but merely an average one.
Similar in sound to stuff on "Coco", this surely is a reworking of Out Of The Blue isn't it? Good lyrics on this and a confident vocal from Mick. It must be well annoying having to go to showbiz parties and talk to brown nosing idiots who haven't even listened to your music. One of the stronger tracks, although it isn't really doing anything new. Straightforward Supergrass tune.
This is more like it!!! 12-string guitars, huge thumping drum sound, trippy lyrics, wicked tune and beach boy harmonies. More of these please guys!!! Exactly what I expected the whole album to be like, experimental, gorgeous and unique.
Not as exciting as it ought to be. The big intro and outro doesn't alter as much as it should to keep the interest going, although Danny's drumming is spot on. When it finally arrives at the middle section, it is quite special, with Gaz sounding unnervingly like the ghost of John Lennon, with good words and again those harmonies. Nice try at something different.
Heard a lot about this one being brilliant. The verses are immediate and the music is compelling enough, but where is the chorus??? Could have been amazing if they had spent some more time on it, but there's no middle eight, nothing. Once again they resort to aah aah aah ing instead of another set of chords. Disappointing, but it's saved by that keyboard riff.
Jesus Came From Outta Space
I've always thought that Jesus was a spaceman, so I was amazed when my fave British band (Pearl Jam are my fave current American band) agreed with me. Sounds like they had fun on this song, and the production is very impressive, but when I saw them at the MTV gig this didn't go down too well 'cos once again, there is no big chorus. Micks chorus sounds weedy and more like a little break. Were they rushed on this album or something?
Pumping On Your Stereo
This was a great single, with a great video, and what a great sound. Simple but effective, it is still a stand-out track on the album, if only cos it's more confident than most.
Nice violins, "Air" like vocals, and a chilled laid back sound. A proper album track, but quality. Seems to float by...
Maybe one of the most ambitious songs in the Supergrass catalogue, this is a grower. I wasn't overly thrilled when I first heard the B-side version, I preferred the glorious I'm A Believer (was that Danny's singing?) which should have made the album along with Sick, both brilliant. More lyrics than you can remember, this song and indeed album has Micks fingerprints all over it.
Mama & Papa
Okay it sounds a lot like "Julia" would have if Ringo had sung it on the white album, but for me this is easily one of the best songs on the album. Mick sings with sincerity, Gaz harmonizes perfectly, and the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. It also refers to geology which I'm kinda interested in (along with Space).
Overall the album is still growing on me. It's strength is that it is very understated and therefore maybe has more scope and longevity than their first albums. If they can produce an album which mixes the songs of In It For The Money (Going Out, You Can See Me, It's Not Me), the summer sounds of Time and Sofa from Coco, and the maturity of Mama & Papa, Shotover Hill and Moving, it surely will be one of the greatest albums ever made.
So my faith has been knocked a little by this album, but it's still better than most albums I bought this year and I'm still listening to it aren't I?
Ross Thomas - 07 November 1999