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Album Review: Supergrass - Life on Other Planets (1 Viewer)

A Review by Sir Joel of Cardwell

Supergrass – Life on Other Planets (2002)

Supergrass emerged from the ashes of Britpop relatively un-damaged from the excessive tabloid hype that threatened to overwhelm them as it did to Pearl, Elastica and Menswear (who?). Although coming from Oxford, Supergrass has become seen as polar opposites to their fellow villagers, Radiohead. Not for these lads the perceived negativity and self-generated weirdness that marks their rivals. An unforced optimism marks this, Supergrass’ fourth album, an exercise in both classic pop sensibilities (i.e. tune isn’t sacrificed for “edge”) and instrumental prowess. Supergrass (Mickey Quinn, Rob Coombes, Danny Goffey and Gaz Coombes) is not a band to be praised with outrageous hyperboles or sentiments linking the words super and fantastic. They are, as they say, a grower.

Their single (not a hit in Oz? The shock!), Grace is a quick-paced, rocking piece of good fun, exhorting us in mock-realist fashion to “save your money for the children”. They have been compared to Paul McCartney and quite suitably too, nice guys who get along and have a laugh. They same critics who made light of McCartney’s early work would have these four talented musicians making good but not great music, but it IS great. As well, the past-worshipping musical cognoscenti that make up the British musical press cannot help but defer to the heroes of the past, T-Rexisms? McCartneyisms? Bryan Ferryisms!? Why? When will they realise that T-Rex were a mere fifties rehash, McCartney never recovered from the Beatles’ split and Bryan Ferry… nuff said.

Supergrass are original, and what’s more, they have tunes, a trait sadly missing among the more lauded “first division” groups. “Brecon Beacons” is a poetic yet highly charged look at a creepy French legend. “Za” is a chugging scrap of melody that leads us in to the album. “Can’t Get Up” is a seemingly uplifting piece that shows us the dark roads of sexual frustration in a humorous light. The last song “Run” has an almost Radiohead-like sense of melancholy, however Supergrass are actually familiar with a metronome, thus giving them some coherance.

Supergrass do appeal to a more mature audience, having a collective age of 116 themselves. They are not the fresh though be-sideburned young muckers that brashly announced their place in British music with 1995s “I Should Coco”. Supergrass may be far removed from “the kids” however they are not removed from a good tune, and maybe, just maybe, in 20 years time we will bemoaning new bands appropriating our beloved Supergrassisms.

I like T-Rex! I just wanted to use the old compare and contrast trick. I was mocking the oldies for mocking the newbies who are no more guilty of plagiarism than they...