Supergrass - Road to Rouen
One of the last survivors of the Britpop era, "Road to Rouen" sees Supergrass releasing their fifth studio album. This release marks a departure for the band - a more mature songwriting approach is evident on this self-produced album. The humour is still in place, but the songs show more wisdom, with a self-assured sound.
The lead single is a classic example. "St Petersburg" is almost a lament, but somehow manages to sound uplifting and mournful at the same time. Piano riffs drive the song forward, drums shuffling and Gaz Coombes never sounding so good. A beautiful song with acres of atmosphere, it displays huge skill.
This is also true of opening track "Tales of Endurance (Parts 4, 5 & 6)". As suggested by the title, this is a track of three sections, from the strum of the intro coupled with a muted piano part, leading into lyrics describing "commercial suicide". It is an audacious opening, leading you into the album.
"Sad Girl" evokes Beatles circa Revolver, whilst "Roxy" is back to the old Supergrass sound, not a bad thing by any means. This song is perfectly paced, giving the music time to breath. "Coffee in the Pot" is a happy polka tune, out of place on the album but great to hear none the less.
Best for me though is title track, "Road to Rouen", an excellent piece of inventive rock music. Mick Quinn sounds fantastic on this song, the bass looping around like the theme to a seventies cop show. "Kick in the Teeth" again sounds like a slab of sixties pop, whilst "Low C" meanders along, nothing special, but fine none the less.
Closing track "Fin" again shows the freedom Supergrass gave themselves in the studio on this release. A spacey, trippy song, Coombes again sounds great, his voice swamped in effects with a fruity guitar.
Rather than re-tread a formula, Supergrass have made a real effort here to produce something different. It does not always work, but when it does, it is very special. I should imagine times are sometimes hard for this band - still signed to a major label, but never really selling that many albums. However, Parlophone would be mad to drop Supergrass. Even though many of their contemporaries have fallen by the wayside, they continue to make interesting, thought provoking music, and long may they continue to do so.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 06:38:12