Album Reviews: Road to Rouen by SupergrassAs tired as this may sound, especially for Supergrass fans, it's exceedingly nice to hear a band that still thinks that '70s-era Bowie and Elton John have something to offer today's musical metaverse. But it's also nice that Supergrass have skewed their take on traditional British rock by avoiding the type of preening that marked so much of their predecessors' work, as well as that of their peers in Oasis and Blur.
Which is another way of saying that if you're on the hunt for some evocative, taut songcraft that avoids the trappings of the 21st century's technological gadgetry, then welcome home, road warrior. Because Supergrass' newest effort is laced with both nostalgia for yesteryear's pop blueprints and today's millennial fear. Dig the relentlessly addictive single "St. Petersburg" for more on that score: "Soon be here at the borderline, I guess/Armageddon coming down." Or perhaps the epic (for Supergrass anyway, clocking in as it does above five minutes) "Tales of Endurance (Parts 4, 5 & 6)," which flips John Lennon's "All You Need is Love" into its War-on-Terror doppelganger with the lyrics, "Count the hours, face the fear/It's all you need these days." Then take a peek at Supergrass' official site graphics, which lets you commandeer tanks spread across a digitized globe and destroy everything in your path. It all seems to point to a peculiar sensitivity for today's geopolitical intrigue, although there's little sign of it in the crystalline melodies that litter Road to Rouen like so much shrapnel. Whether it's the charging urgency of the title track and "Kick in the Teeth" or the mellow wanderings of "Fin" and "Low C," Supergrass' latest joint makes you want to reach for one and forget everything you hear on the news, even as the album seems to ask you to tune in rather than drop out.
All told, like Spoon before them, Supergrass has learned the lessons of rock history well. And it doesn't seem to be doomed, at least not at this stage, to repeat them. A rewarding if short-lived experience, Road to Rouen is a catchy-as-hell collection of tracks geared for maximum emotional impact. - Scott Thill, Morphizm.com
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