You never would have expected Supergrass to grow like they have. Compared to, say, fellow Oxford boys Radiohead, whose ‘The Bends’ was released the same year as Supergrass’ debut ‘I Should Coco’, pop-punk scraps like ‘Caught By The Fuzz’ seemed doomed to flare up and then fizzle out.
Yet, 13 years on, they’re flourishing. 2005’s ‘Road To Rouen’ – a bleak, bare record – found new depth, but at a cost. With band relations under strain, a further blow came when bassist Mick Quinn broke his back sleepwalking out a window. Was it the end of a longer-than-expected run?
Was it hell. Instead, Danny Goffey and Gaz Coombes banged on some silver jumpsuits, renamed themselves the Diamond Hoo Ha Men and rediscovered mischief under the freedom of a silly pseudonym. Playing Michael Jackson covers and some distinctly un-bleak new tracks in the small, sweaty venues they first cut their teeth in certainly helped.
Rejoined by Mick, the single of almost the same name opens their sixth album with a fat riff as Gaz channels some sort of hoodoo playboy travelling salesman, stuffing ladies in his suitcase and crowing “When the sun goes down… I just can’t resist/BITE ME!” If the boys are bringing back the fun, on tracks like ‘345’ it’s clear what new producer Nick Launay has brought; a big, muscular layered sound similar to a late-era White Stripes while the heavy glam of ‘Bad Blood’ even recalls the more playful moments of QOTSA. The sweet ‘Ghost Of A Friend’, meanwhile, proves that they’re still the summer-radio-hit band to beat. Overall, it’s a brash, shiny, confident record, careering along on a second wind, or as one jaunty number puts it, “the return of inspiration”. The ’Grass have bounced back and it’s definitely worth making a hoo-ha over.