The Birmingham quartet's ecstatic debut reveals their appetite for adventure and taste for the bizarre
Before forming [a]Superfood[/a], 23-year-old Dom Ganderton unintentionally helped propel his friends’ bands towards record deals, festival bills and mainstream consciousness. He produced early demos by Peace and Swim Deep, capturing the raw excitement that pushed the Midlands under the nose of the music industry in 2012. While watching them accelerate from unknowns to buzz darlings and beyond, he decided to start his own band so he could join the fun.
The pursuit of fun defines Superfood. It’s rare they don’t look like they’re having heaps of it: in July they brought a foam machine to a tiny London gig, covering their fans in bubbles, while at aftershows they’ll usually be found downing tequila until way past dawn. When the celing collapsed at another summer date, they posted a pun-packed video about it (“We brought the house down”). That spirit sloshes through their debut album, ‘Don’t Say That’. “It’s us saying ‘Stop moping about and do something! Put some trousers on!’” Ganderton recently told NME, expressing the Birmingham quartet’s desire to get out of the house and make something of their lives. They’re doing it by having as much of a laugh as possible. It isn’t exactly a revolutionary outlook – Supergrass got there first in 1993 – but they execute it convincingly. For a generation too young to remember ‘I Should Coco’, ‘Don’t Say That’ will resound as an album that turns mundane everyday experiences into dreamy, surreal highs.
‘Superfood’, the song the band take their name from, is an ode to wandering through kitchen cupboards with an attack of the munchies and surely boasts the most anthemic chorus to reference butternut squash ever written (“You always come around, don’t you butternut“). ‘TV’, meanwhile, is an insomnia-driven comment on the permanently switched-on nature of society, Ganderton bemoaning the death of imagination as he barks “How am I to dream without the TV on?” over guitarist Ryan Malcolm’s wobbling hook.
It’s difficult to accuse Superfood of lacking imagination. Ganderton is a dreamer, and a sense of the bizarre permeates the record. Weirdest of all is the lolloping ‘It’s Good To See You’, which envisions plants coming to life: “The flowers in the garden said/’We all get along now come sing our song’”. There’s fidgety escapism alongside the wackiness. Through odd daydreams (‘It’s Good To See You’) to taking a plane to paradise (‘Right On Satellite’) and urgently chasing your dreams (‘You Can Believe’, ‘Melting’) Superfood convey a hungry sense of adventure.
It’s set to a wider-reaching mix of sounds than you might expect. Since emerging in 2012, Superfood have been tagged as ’90s-obsessive Britpop revivalists. While this record smacks of a youth spent listening to Blur, Oasis and their baggier forbears The Charlatans and The Stone Roses, its pool of influence is bigger. ‘Lily For Your Pad To Rest On’ conjures Beck’s inventiveness circa ‘E-Pro’, and the end of ‘Mood Bomb’ has a Jagwar Ma haze. The title-track meanwhile, is sparse and slinky, nodding to hip-hop in a similar way that Arctic Monkeys did on ‘AM’. It’s also a rare point where positivity wavers. “I feel so paranoid, my friends don’t fill the void“, sighs Ganderton over moody bass and drums from Emily Baker and Carl Griffin.
It’s an unexpected diversion at the end of an album that shows Ganderton can more than match up to his friends’ bands. It suggests that there are undiscovered layers to Superfood too, but they’re to come. For now, they’re more than happy just grinning from ear to ear.
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Director: Al O'Connell
Record label: Infectious
Release date: 03 Nov, 2014