I'm always excited to see a cheeky new album from these boys. And
Supergrass' latest effort, Road To Rouen, doesn't disappoint.
As for the rumors that they have grown up, that they have musically
evolved... well, sure they have. They're a little bit older; they've
had some unhappy personal experiences, but their music has always
been more substantial than they have often been given credit for.
So this fully baked, thoughtful offering doesn't come as a real surprise.
If Supergrass' off kilter style and cracking pop numbers are what
drew you to the band in the first place, however, don't worry - it's
in there, too. Just look at the album's title. Yes, they recorded
it in the French city, but read it again like you're from Indiana.
They can't help themselves.
The record opens on a cinematic note with the long, instrumental
introduction to "Tales Of Endurance (4, 5 and 6)", and ends
with a sweet little number, "Fin" (that's The End,
to you and me). That structure may be one of the biggest differences
between Road To Rouen and Supergrass' previous albums - this
one is more of an old style "album" in the sense that it's
almost like a film with a start, an end, and a loose arc of songs
in between that create a progression in mood. Even with that flow,
almost every song stands very well on its own. The band's musical
styles on this record range widely: from the driving pop we expect
from the band, to quiet ballads, all the way to a style that would
seem to result only from a lot of nights under the stars alone with
your horse - as evidenced by the cowboy stylings of "Coffee In
The Pot." That one's just nutty, but it will still have you nodding
your head and tapping your foot. Even the intro to "Tales Of
Endurance" and the rhythm of "St. Petersburg" conjure
up images of bouncing in your saddle across the dusty plains. My personal
favorite on the album is "Sad Girl", mainly because I'm
so vain I imagine it was written just for me, but also because of
the 60's keyboards they rely on to set the tone and the way the Beatles
are all over it. It reminded me of both "I Am the Walrus"
and "Day in the Life." Also excellent is "Kick In The
Teeth," as the number that most conjures up Supergrass' past,
more jubilantly rocking numbers like "Pumping On Your Stereo"
and "Rush Hour Soul." Finally, they drop back for a couple
of slowies, with "Low C" and "Fin." Both take
a slightly sentimental tone, but they aren't sappy. They're really,
really good. I can't take this CD out of my stereo. Supergrass can
sing all they want about commercial suicide, but they're just being
cheeky again. They know this one is great.
1. Tales of Endurance (4, 5 and 6)
2. St. Petersburg
3. Sad Girl
5. Coffee In The Pot
6. Road To Rouen
7. Kick In The Teeth
8. Low C
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