06. Supergrass – Road To Rouen

Inspired by Tim Byron (www.livejournal.com/users/o_song), I will wank on about my top ten favourite albums of the year in backwards order.

06. Supergrass – Road To Rouen
Parlophone

Listening to this album again, after many months of background listening that proceeded some fairly intense getting to know eachother stuff, it’s hard to see why this is such a big departure. Touted as an acoustic departure, or in some circles, a goodbye to commercial relevance and the catching of a train to adult contemporary land. But all the classic Supergrass elements are here, just in slightly different measures.

Bob Dylan has said Nashville Skyline is sho short because that’s all the songs he had. I wonder if this is the same for Road To Rouen. Under 36 minutes, one instrumental, it seems a bit lacking. Luckily every note of the album is well conceived. You can’t really count on over 30 minutes of greatness anymore, even over albums that go for 80 minutes.

There are the funky prog moments (set out years ago by tracks like Moving), given very prog rock names like Tales Of Endurance Parts 4, 5 &6. There is dreamy ballad pop (much like Mama & Papa) in something like Fin. Even the title track is close to a home ground stomper for the lads. So what’s the big deal?

There is a looseness to the album that’s new. Supergrass albums are usually frenetic affairs, built on nervous energy. That’s gone. This is a mature, thoughtful work. It’s also the most simply beautiful Supergrass album ever. Written and made in a time of great personal difficulty, the album is bare but inviting. Yes there are lots of acoustic guitars, and it the soft grooves and beautiful pianos that take you away. Witness the mix of sounds on Low C, or the single St Petersburg. It’s interesting to hear well constructed acoustic music, without it being twee, country, or Nickelback.

Highlights are abound, but I think I might have mentioned them. Like I said, the album’s short. It does it’s job, then it lets you go. Much like Chutes Too Narrow, every track is great, and the fact there are so very few of them just serves to show that even more.

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