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Road To Rouen
EMI/Parlophone Records

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.

-Heidi Lamer

Track Listing:
1. Tales of Endurance (4, 5 and 6)
2. St. Petersburg
3. Sad Girl
4. Roxy
5. Coffee In The Pot
6. Road To Rouen
7. Kick In The Teeth
8. Low C
9. Fin

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