Listen to this song by Brit-pop brats Supergrass with the opening salvo of their 1995 debut album, I Should Coco. Warning: this tune rocks like a bastard, the bastard’s brother, his bastard wife, his layabout bastard brother-in-law (who’s between jobs right now…), his seven bastard children, and any collection of bastards unrelated to him in his postal code.
In my experience, Brit-pop bands are not universally loved, even among fans of that particular scene. A lot of people found the contrived cockney-isms of Blur to be tiresome. Some couldn’t stand Suede frontman Brett Anderson’s poor man’s Bowie. And Oasis? That’s a whole other post. But, I find that almost everyone likes Supergrass (I can only think of one exception in my immediate circle who doesn’t…). I think it might be because they seem to draw from the same classic British influences as their peers. Yet, they’ve managed to present them in such a way that it’s very hard to pinpoint exactly which ones.
The first time I heard this tune, I was sitting on the floor of a friend’s living room wondering how in god’s name they could pack that many riffs into one song without it sounding cluttered. And this is clearly rock ‘n’ roll, yet of what variety? There’s some punk in there – I think. And some 70s glam too – maybe. Also, a dash of 60s jam-rock, with keyboardist Rob Coombes mashing down the keys like Ray Manzarek crossed with the Roadrunner. And even if it isn’t cluttered, it’s totally over the top. But, it’s over the top in a good way.
Supergrass would evolve, and almost fifteen years later (!), they’ve maintained a steady output of solid records. This is from their first album, and the music represented is very much in a Brit-pop vein. But by their second, they were looking to escape the label since it was antiquated even two years after . That follow-up, We’re In It For the Money, is respected by many as their best. But, there’s something about the tunes on this debut which just shimmer with first-album enthusiasm of a band bursting with ideas and the skills to bring them off.
For more about Supergrass, check out the official Supergrass website.
[UPDATE: Nov 24, 2015: To learn more about this phase in the life of Supergrass, take a read of this article that tells the tale of how I Should Coco was made]