After last year's singles compilation Supergrass have started a new chapter, they've...
Jack Smith 2002-11-20
Supergrass have always been a singles band as proved by last year's Supergrass Is 10, one of the best singles collections ever made. However, the albums since '97's In It For The Money have left many disappointed and sadly Road To Rouen is no exception.
After the release of the singles compilation the band have started a new chapter in their history. They've grown up and want us to realise it; this album is more low key and features an impressive array of instruments including a ukulele, zithers, brass and strings.
Written and recorded in France after a succession of unfortunate events (the death of Gaz Coombes' mother and the tabloid exposure of Danny Goffey's wife-swapping antics to name but two) this album attempts to bury the chirpiness of the past. They've dispensed with the catchy choruses and the larking around, replacing them with introspective musings.
Much of this album ambles along pleasantly without anything particularly sticking out. The exceptions include the first single, the gentle piano-led strum "St Petersburg", which would actually sound more at home on a Divine Comedy album. Only on the Beatles-like "Kick In The Teeth" and on the Coral-esque hopalong hokum of "Coffee In The Pot" does a sign of the Supergrass of yore show itself. Thankfully the essence of japery and cheekiness hasn't completely vanished.
Supergrass have outlasted most of their contemporaries and still have it in them to make a truly amazing masterpiece. Unfortunately Road To Rouen is not quite it.