Erstwhile Supergrass frontman returns with beguiling and widespread solo album.
Ian Winwood 2012-05-18
It is a depressing prospect, but in just a few years it will be time to begin celebrating – definition: getting misty eyed over a dog-eared copy of Definitely Maybe and wondering why a Ben Sherman shirt purchased in 1994 no longer fits – that most exhilirating periods of British popular music, The Britpop Years.
Due reverence will be given to Noel, to Damon, to Jarvis and to Thom, as a whole host of critics and other ‘industry experts’ recall battles to get to number one, cocaine-fuelled fall-outs and a night at the BRITS when Mr Cocker invaded a stage belonging to Michael Jackson.
It’s a fair bet, though, that very little airtime will be dedicated to Supergrass, a Britpop group who take gold medal in the "Most Overlooked British Group of the 1990s" category. The Oxford trio may have sold records and concert tickets, but when it came to the attentions of the music press more column inches (and, amazingly, credit) seemed to be devoted to no-hopers such as Menswear and Northern Uproar.
A generation on and former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes finds himself flying under his own wing. Devoid of the collective responsibility that goes with being part of a band, the fabulously (if not quite appropriately) titled Here Come the Bombs is an ultimately welcoming but at first distant, even obscure, body of music.
It is the work of a man capable of writing pop songs while in a coma, but who now finds himself at a time in his life where such pursuits are not quite enough. Coombes has not lost his ear for a knockout melody – in this sense, his teeth are still "nice and clean" – but has developed an appetite for obscuring his choruses in swathes of music that, to the casual ear, keeps them just out of reach.
Because of this, Here Come the Bombs is an album that expects your attention. Songs such as the quietly soaring Sub Divider, the melodious White Noise, or the sparse and haunting Simulator, are not quick to reveal their full, glorious colours; for several listens they merely hint at the promise behind their facades.
But this is an album that contains a nagging quality which draws the listener back for repeated visits, and at some point the songs contained within traverse the distance between acquaintance and friendship. As such, Here Come the Bombs is a rewarding and substantial offering.