Supergrass - Diamond Hoo Ha
Paul Cook 24/03/2008
A Britpop band doing what the White Stripes do best but better? Surely not? Well, no, not quite, but Supergrass' comeback kick-ass album 'Diamond Hoo Ha' is a blisteringly fast paced, full-on rock 'n' roll powerhouse. Opening with the roughly distorted, edgy guitars of 'Diamond Hoo Ha Man', the album from 90's Britpop era sensations Supergrass is a surprisingly good album.
The first three tracks leave you thinking Supergrass may just have made that seemingly impossible leap from the 90's to the noughties, the one that they didn't quite manage with 'Road to Rouen' three years back. 'Diamond Hoo Ha Man' is a sublimely cheeky attempt at topping the White Stripes prowess and masterfully edgy riffs. 'Diamond Hoo Ha Man' is the perfect way to kick off the new album; powerful, catchy and modern, everything a 2008 Supergrass album should be. That's then followed by the latest single to be released 'Bad Blood', a dark, full-on rock track with a fantastic chorus. Then it's 'Rebel in You' a more classic-Supergrass sounding track. The driving guitar line is twinned with a few simple yet vital piano keys. The lyrics are bang on and sung with such passion and vigour by frontman Gaz Coombes complimenting the forceful riffs and memorable chorus line “Can't stop the rebel in you/hands down you're beautiful.” This is a real gem of a song.
Diamond Hoo Ha does however have its faults. The occasional synth keyboard and acoustic riff begins to creep into an album which at heart is an electric rock record through and through. After track three the album does start to digress into less qualitative territory. 'When I Needed You' is a solid follow-up to the fantastic opening trio but lacks the power, precision and confidence that emanates from tracks like 'Bad Blood' and 'Diamond Hoo Ha Man.' The following track, the mysteriously named '345' is a somewhat disjointed, out of place song on the album, beginning with a soaring guitar wail before descending into brooding bass and drums amidst a husky vocal delivery. The song feels very old, outdated and like you've heard it a million times before. The riff is too simple and generic and there's little in the lyrics to make it a memorable 'Diamond Hoo Ha' track.
'The Return of…' is the anomaly in the digression, with a passionate vocal performance and meaningful subject matter as Coombes harmoniously delivers the line “the return of inspiration” in the chorus. The moody wind instrumentals give an ambience to the song and the clean guitar riffs maintain the typical Supergrass aesthetic. 'Rough Knuckles' follows and its back again to the generic, Cher-like synthesized sounds and tinny snares and cymbals, which given the quality of the lyrics and vocals, are a real shame. The final four tracks are a mixed bag of an acoustic-Beatles-esque number in the form of 'Ghost of a Friend', a stop-start rock/pop/experimental tale of a night in a Chinese bar, 'Whiskey and Green Tea' and 2 more promising rock songs 'Outside' and 'Butterfly.' All are likeable tracks apart from 'Whiskey and Green Tea' which changes direction, tempo and tone so many times that it's impossible to get into before being disappointed by the following, completely unrelated verse.
'Diamond Hoo Ha' feels is an album of two halves. The first kick-starting what seemed to be a brilliant comeback into the music scene and the second proving it probably won't happen. Supergrass are on the right lines to rejuvenating their nineties career with songs like the punchy 'Diamond Hoo Ha Man' and the folksy, nostalgia of 'Rebel in You' but disillusion the listener with poorer songs like '345' and 'Whiskey and Green Tea.' Download the singles you like rather than album you won't is the best advice because Supergrass are back with some brilliant material, but only a distinctly average album.