Supergrass rocketed into the pop music world in 1995 with I Should Coco, a vivacious spark of a rock album that managed to contain all that was great about loud, wild rock n’ roll within 40 minutes. Supergrass’ next effort, 1997’s In It For The Money, was a masterful album of near-perfect pop songs and swirling production that recalled the best records of the ‘60s. So where does this new album of their’s fit in?
Well, to be blunt, it doesn’t fit in at all. Supergrass is ho-hum, flat, and even downright dull at times, despite the marvelous production and arrangements. The chiming harpsichord in “Your Love,” the booming tympanis in “Shotover Hill,” the groovy organ in “Mary,” and especially the delightful piano that runs through the whole album all sound wonderful. The problem is that the quality of the songs don’t come close to matching the depth of the production.
Aside from “Mary” and “Moving” (a semi-retread of In It For The Money’s storming title track), no song on Supergrass leaves much of an impression. There aren’t any awful songs on the album (except for the diluted and forced “Pumping On Your Stereo”), but when Supergrass ends, one’s left with the feeling that it’s missing something. Not a single song comes close to the marvelous depth and hooks of In It For The Money’s “Late In The Day” and “Tonight” or I Should Coco’s “Caught By The Fuzz” and “Alright.” All of the songs on Supergrass are mildly pleasing, but they lack the solid hooks that songs need to get them off the ground. On the other hand, everything sounds so splendidly recorded and arranged that it’s impossible to discount the album as a failure.
All of Supergrass’ faults don’t keep it from being, at times, mildly enjoyable and somewhat interesting to listen to. Everything sounds glorious and colorful, but it all seems like a waste without the strong songcraft of Supergrass’ previous efforts. The overall mediocrity of Supergrass just makes me appreciate Velocette more (a band that REALLY knows how to write AND produce). Songs come first, and Supergrass proves that you can’t get by on production alone. Write some better songs next time, fellas. I haven’t lost hope in you yet.
Written by Justin McVicker.