By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Where Supergrass once stood as an effervescent factory of happy-glam, the group has changed the formula for its sixth effort, Diamond Hoo Ha.
Rather than follow 2005's moodier Road to Rouen with another Marc Bolan-in-rainbows party monster and adhere to the band's back-forth, up-down M.O., Supergrass has offered up something still lightly steeped in gold lamé and Martian spiders but tempered with other less appetizing tributes. The result is something far less infectious.
"Diamond Hoo Ha Man" reeks of forced garage, shooting, perhaps, for Jack White but hitting closer to the over-produced likes of (gasp!) Jet or some other throw-back outfit. "Bad Blood" (paging Gaz Coombes' best Iggy impression) is an angrier effort, but rather than nodding to artists like The Buzzcocks when it comes to punkish, impish turns, Supergrass goes instead for something akin to that last 2007 Stooges record (the one Stooges fans don't discuss). And then there's the vapid hair-product commercial fodder ("The Rebel in You" and "Whisky and Green Tea").
But Hoo Ha isn't all a wash. Coombes still has some amazing pipes and, on certain tracks, the band's inherent musical skill is apparent in complex layers and thoughtful progressions. The moodier "When I Needed You" and "Butterfly," plus the harmony- and cowbell-driven "Outside" are more recognizable Supergrass—closer to how we once knew them, but so very far from the charge of Life on Other Planets or the passion of In It for the Money.