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Friday, 19 November, 1999, 21:56 GMT
CD Review: Supergrass
Supergrass - Supergrass (Parlophone)

By the BBC's Chris Charles

The winds of change are blowing through Gaz Coombes' ever-increasing sideburns and the long-term forecast is bright.

The hurricane-charged pop songs of old have given way to a more mature, reflective and often forlorn sound, but once your brain has adjusted to the pace, it's a breath of fresh air.

The notoriously difficult third album (just ask Oasis) is an excuse for dipping one's toes into untested waters, but as experiments go this is in the same class as Pavlov's doggy bell.

Mature and reflective: Gaz shows his dark side
The quirkiness of old has not evaporated completely, but as the no-frills album title suggests, this is Oxford's finest (with apologies to Radiohead) determined to shake off their 'comedy band' tag once and for all.

Naturally it won't suit everyone - and that's fine. If nothing other than regurgitations of Alright and Caught By The Fuzz will do, either pull your head out of the sand and give this record the attention it deserves - or don't buy it. Simple.

The most notable addition is the promotion to co-vocalist of bass player Mick Quinn.

His deep, unflappable tones provide the perfect foil for Gaz, with the marked contrast in styles reminiscent of Difford and Tilbrook.

On Beautiful People, which threatens to go into The Logical Song before turning into Space, Quinn leads from the front, opining: "You can run out of friends faster than you make them."

Current single Moving, with its orchestral sweeps, two-tone piano and handclaps, gives the impression Gaz is standing on a clifftop, looking out to sea and pleading to the waves below.

"There's a low, low feeling around me, a stone cold feeling inside.. gotta find someone to help me," he cries, before moaning on Faraway: "I don't believe you're leaving me with nothing."

Yep, this is a man taking a walk on the dark side all right, but hey, it's 1999 and pre-Millennium tension is all the rage, so what did you expect?

Supergrass: Lounging about
The "clean teeth£ of Alright have been displaced by the green teeth of Mary ("I like to shock her on a basis daily") - where the up-tempo piano of Supergrass past is altogether more loungey.

The overall sound is nothing new (what is?), and the influences are there for all to hear, from the glam-slammin' Rebel Rebel rip-off that is Pumping On Your Stereo and the nod to Rod on Eon, to the schmoozy Hugh Cornwell-esque guitars on Your Love - which comes complete with cow bells and trademark tempo changes.

Strip it down to its bare bones, though, and it's unmistakably Supergrass.

More grown-up? Definitely. Less fun lovin'? Maybe. Still one of the best bands these shores have got to offer? I Should Coco!

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