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Thursday, 8 October 2009

Criminally Underrated Albums of the 2000's: #06


Supergrass – Road To Rouen

Supergrass is a band for whom most of its fifteen year career has made an upbeat pop bounce it's trademark. It not really surprising then that Road To Rouen, a record made in the wake of the death of the mother of two members of the band is one that's revisited less in the memory of those talking of the band's cannon. Yet as documentations of loss go this is the finest one that this decade has thrown at us and if nothing else proves the point that great bands make great albums.

Road To Rouen, Supergrass' fifth, heralded the last time the band had a song in the UK pop charts – said song 'St. Petersburg' was a stately semi-acoustic number with a gorgeous uplifting string section that couldn't have been any further from the pop bounce of 'Alright' or the scuzz rock of 'Richard III' that made the band's name yet was still as good as either. Elsewhere on the LP there was the prog-aping 'Roxy' with it's heavier than necessary outro and the heartbreaking 'Fin'. The only upbeat number present was 'Coffee in the Pot'; an instrumental built around an old jazz sample.

However, the musical highlights aren't the reason why I've picked Road To Rouen for it's spot on the list of underrated albums. It's because of the tenderness on display. The fact that this album is utterly peerless, more affecting than the stadium humping giants they'd go on to support and more cohesive than many of their brit-pop fellows, who by this point had either split or slid into irrelevancy.

Ultimately, it may have been a death that gave Supergrass life, and the band searching for their place in the world that made them even better than they previously were.

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