It is interesting to sit back and realize that the debut album from Supergrass, I Should Coco, was released thirteen years ago. Since then, this band from Oxford has been cranking out some of the best pop around. When thinking of the sheer quantity of great tunes that they have put out, it is still shocking that they have remained somewhat under the radar here in the US. Sure, "Alright" has made the rounds on commercials and soundtracks, but your average yahoo has no clue who that particular song came from. The muppet-esque video for "Pumping On Your Stereo" also got the lads a bit of attention on the various music television networks, but it most definitely did not firmly put them on the musical map in the States.
The good news is that these popsters frankly don't seem to care about world domination, and have continued releasing albums throughout the years. Although some viewed their previous release, Road To Rouen, a bit of a stumble (although I enjoyed it), Gaz Coombes is back and ready to rock with Diamond Hoo Ha. The opening track, "Diamond Hoo Ha Man," immediately grabs the listener by the bollocks with a fat guitar lick, leading to one of the most aggressive choruses they've unleashed since 1995. It oozes '70s rock, and frankly I'm surprised that there isn't just a hint of cowbell in there. Nonetheless, it marks a return to form for Supergrass, something I've been waiting for.
Wasting no time, "Bad Blood" continues their straightforward pop-rock assult with guitars blazing, doing what this band does best. It brings a bit of Bowie and Iggy to mind, with a stomping beat that drives the track as our eardrums get bombarded with some of the best music this band has delivered in a while. It is almost a journey back to the heyday of Britpop, when Supergrass was making waves with "Caught By The Fuzz" and "Mansized Rooster." "Rebel in You" keeps the momentum going, which is just a bit less noisy but still overflowing with the infectious melodies that have always been the core of their songwriting.
Gaz's brother Rob Coombes helped lay down a cool piano line for "When I Needed You," sounding just a bit like the melodic line from Midlake's "Roscoe," but that is the only similarity between the two tracks. This is a fuller, more lush track, slowing the tempo down just a bit and letting the melody shine through. This marks some of the best vocal work on the album as well, filled with plenty of backing harmonies as Gaz sings the chorus.
The amps are turned all the way back up on "Whiskey & Green Tea," with Mick Quinn's bass easily switching from a cool groove to a full-on rock explosion in the blink of an eye. The same goes for drummer Danny Goffey, who always provides just enough of a driving force to keep the Supergrass train on track. Few bands are able to harness the rock energy that these four talented musicians can with such ease. This is exactly what fun, gimmick-free pop-rock is supposed to be.
Although I don't believe that Diamond Hoo Ha is going to make Supergrass bazillionaires here in the US, it will satisfy the cravings of longtime fans who have been wanting a bit more rock from Gaz and his bandmates. It is most definitely one of their finer releases, right up there with I Should Coco and In It For The Money. Diamond Hoo Ha could easily bring the band a batch of new fans as well, that is if this record is given the exposure that it rightfully deserves. Long live Supergrass!
"Diamond Hoo Ha Man"