Supergrass, ‘Diamond Hoo Ha’

By • Jun 17th, 2008 • Category: Album Reviews

From the opening Zeppelin-lifted riff of “Diamond Hoo Ha Man,” the faux title track that commences Diamond Hoo Ha, there’s a staggering retrospective aura to the sixth Supergrass release. It recalls some of rock’s most brazen personalities and time-honored stereotypes.

It’s every bit as sexually charged and debauchery-driven as an album that rips Jimmy Page’s “Moby Dick” in its first few notes should be. From the band’s cliché pose on its cover befitting the raunchy title, the Oxford ensemble clearly turned its eyes to the past and gave a long, slow once-over to everything rock ‘n’ roll’s forefathers embodied. But Gaz Coombes and his mates didn’t just casually fix theirs sights on yesterday: they stared backward with the same legendary glare used to spot girls in the front row. Not content just to look, however, they grabbed ahold and copped a backstage-party feel that would make Pamela Des Barres blush.

The result is a jagged work that hits as hard as it does randomly. Despite these 11 tracks packing the same proverbial bang, they each come from a different position, touch a unique spot, and switch angles just in time to leave us yearning for a few more sonic thrusts. “Bad Blood” finds the younger Coombes doing a spot-on Iggy Pop impression – crooning and snarling – over his older brother Rob’s spacey sound effects, before the band embarks on a sonic assault on par with the best American proto-punk. “Rebel in You” embraces the height of David Bowie’s glam era, although not as consistently as 2002’s Life on Other Planets. At times, tracks such as “Rough Knuckles” and “Outside” are as synthetically pleasing as early-era MTV’s new wave. For a brief moment, during the bridge breakdown on “Ghost of a Friend,” Gaz even channels Bob Dylan’s sly delivery.

Although Supergrass has never hidden the band members’ affection for their influences, Diamond Hoo Ha is the most blatant attempt to include them all at once. It plays like a schizophrenic homage instead of as a cohesive work. And while the orgy of sounds is exciting, it never allows for the level of comfort or familiarity to really get emotionally involved.

But musical trailblazers never were known for their fidelity, and these Brits sound as content as ever to screw around on the side.

Soundcheck Magazine, June 2008

Email this author | All posts by

Comments are closed.