CD Review of Diamond Hoo Ha by Supergrass
Recommended if you like
David Bowie, The Pixies, White Stripes
Astralwerks Records
Diamond Hoo Ha

Reviewed by Red Rocker


here’s much to be made about Supergrass these days. Aside from Oasis -- and even including Oasis, if you’re on that side of the camp -- there isn’t another Britpop force from the mid-‘90s to be reckoned with today, certainly not one still cranking out genius new material like Diamond Hoo Ha, the band’s sixth full-length release. It hits just in time for a much-anticipated summer tour supporting Foo Fighters, and follows a short break beyond 2005’s exceptionally diverse Road to Rouen, while Mick Quinn recovered from a spinal injury and Danny Goffey returned from his brief departure. Gaz Coombes, sounding spry and understandably arrogant, says, “We (still) feel like we’re a new band. The personal shit we’ve been through has made us feel really fresh. There’s a new connection between all of us.” And it comes across like a ton of bricks on these 11 new songs, just as Supergrass are evolving into elder statesmen (barely out of their 20s, mind you) compared to fellow-countrymen Coldplay and Arctic Monkeys.

The fuzzy riff that walks “Diamond Hoo Ha Man” in recalls the Raconteurs (or White Stripes, depending on which month it is), even as the chorus reeks of England’s lesser-known stepsons the Darkness -- funny how they all sound alike somewhere down the line. “Bad Blood” and “Rebel in You” keep the finger applied to the pressure points with a customary barrage of guitars and hooks. “Rebel” has an unmistakable Bowie vibe and one of the yummiest choruses since “Pumping on Your Stereo.” Pianos abound on a retro, ‘90s-sounding “Outside” and “When I Needed You,” two unique attempts at crawling beyond the familiar Supergrass confines to stir things up a bit. The real departure, however, comes with “Whiskey & Green Tea,” a bizarre operatic moment that bubbles then simmers repeatedly, amidst head-scratching lyrics about Chinese dragons and the KTV (Karaoke TV Club in Beijing).


Nick Launay brings his tried and true resume with Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Nick Cave, and PiL to the Diamond party, not that these guys need credibility. Fourteen years in, Supergrass ooze credibility, not to mention stamina and real rock n’ roll guts. Quinn said that during his two-month hospital stay he watched a lot of films and listened to the Stooges and the Pixies. It’s not so much the loud, angry themes that hold this mighty album up. Instead, there’s a sense of reflection and appreciation from four lads who have endured and grown, survived and matured. The fraternity that is Supergrass seems every bit as poised for greatness now as it did in 1996. When they claim to feel like a new band, I’m not inclined to doubt them. Goffey puts it best when he gushes, “The love you feel for the band is probably the highest it’s been for me, ever.” Hear, hear!

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