Thursday, 24 May 2012

REVIEW: Gaz Coombes - Here Come The Bombs

Bursting on to the scene in the mid nineties, Supergrass earned themselves critical and commercial praise for the cheeky youthful zest displayed on their debut album 'I Should Coco'. It didn't take long for the band to begin moving towards a darker and at times more grown up.  sound, as 'Richard III' and its parent album 'In It For The Money' proved. After six albums Supergrass split in 2009, with an unfinished record remaining unreleased. This album 'Release The Drones' was by all accounts a more experimental affair, and perhaps divided opinions of its musical nature within the band led to their break up. Maybe the first solo outing from frontman Gaz Coombes can provide us with a few clues as to what direction he wanted to take the group towards. 

Fans who were sad to see Supergrass dissolve can now smile again because the debut offering from Coombes proves that he was the premier musical force in the band, if you liked Supergrass you'll certainly like this, and this time he's more than adequately doing it all himself. These songs definitely represent a more advanced and ambitious approach, and as a result 'Here Come The Bombs' seems to be bursting with ideas, successfully updating the existing musical template. On the brief opener 'Bombs' the patter of electronics leads into a lyric that comes from the viewpoint of a bomb dropping to earth before the excellent 'Hot Fruit' revs itself up with urgent gritty guitars and somewhat psychedelic vocal melodies that make way for one of Coombes's finest and most addictive choruses yet. After some bizarre lyrics regarding "hot fruit on my face" the track arrives at a truly explosive climax before 'Whore' delivers jumbled beats, a huge melodic chorus and lyrics detailing the exploitive nature of the music industry.

'Subdivider' builds on a pulsing beat and hazy vocals before suddenly launching into a raucous Ziggy Stardust-like riff, recalling an upgraded relative of something from 'In It For The Money'. While echoes of Supergrass characterise much of the record, it's that other legendary Oxford band who may have provided the inspiration for the hypnotic krautrock groove and thick distorted bass of 'Universal Cinema', which has a verse more than reminiscent of Radiohead's 'Jigsaw Falling Into Pieces' although Gaz makes sure he stamps his own characteristics all over it. 'Simulator' races by with an exciting and brilliantly accomplished verse before slipping into a slightly uneasy chorus, while the dreamy 'White Noise' melodically recalls the drelaxed beauty of 'Late In The Day'. 

'Fanfare' conjures up blissful, hazy rays of sunshine with its stunning synths and slow moving electronic percussion, but while this album exhibits a healthy amount of experimentation, an infectious pop hook is never far away. A good example is 'Break The Silence', where a stomping disco beat and chunky, robotic 80's synths lead into a chorus bursting with energy and positivity. The sad keys and sea sounds of 'Daydream On A Street Corner' provide a short prelude to the ambient bliss of 'Sleeping Giant', which closes the record with delirious harmonies gliding gently over a warm electronic soundscape, evidently taking inspiration from Brian Eno. 

With this record, those who loved Supergrass will be glad that know that the magic still lives on and that Gaz Coombes has maintained the quality of much of his former band's output. It manages to balance surprising left field elements and experimentation with infectiously melodic hooks and a great instinct for writing brilliant pop songs. His debut solo album is a record that fans will often want to revisit for some time to come, and stands as the man's finest offering for years as well as a more revealing insight into his range of tastes. 8.4

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