album reviews: Ted Leo supplies Murs with Supergrass to smoke with a Simian

Life on Other Planets

Supergrass is the best British rock band around. Unlike other U.K. rock star outfits like Oasis, Blur, even Spacehog, these chaps rarely let all the boozing and model drama intervene with their safari towards a classic constellation of jams. Their fourth LP, Life on Other Planets, is decidedly choice, and it finds the band as focused as ever, yet it’s lighter and retro like a pair of PF Flyers. The tavern emerald shimmer from In It for the Money has been washed away by producer Tony Hoffer (Air, Beck), in favor of sing-a-long optimism; fortunately Supergrass sip from a glass of class like Robert Evans (so it’s kosher).
Even with all the luck, these boys are still ballsy and reckless as hell, hopping all over the place in “Never Done Nothing Like That Before,” and crooning like Queen (or is that Ween?) on the galactic “Run.” Each song stands out with different feelings and deliveries, conveniently just like the contrasting fonts on the back of the album. Surely Supergrass studies the Who, the Beatles and the Kinks, but this trio isn’t dirtying their hands in laborsome admiration like so many “revivalists.” Traditional rock fits them like a glove, and it’s time people over here stop bedding the Strokes to see who’s really waking the neighbors – bloody wankers.
It’s odd that Supergrass have never exploded in the land of the winners. There’s some ambiguity to their image in America, as if they’re merely singing your dad’s devil music about some lost dream girl on a train. Ironically this proves somewhat true, as on “Evening of the Day,” where vocalist Gaz Coombes croons, “If she’s not on that 315, then I’m going to know what sorrow means.” Bollocks.
Exhausted, clich