Road to Rouen
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2005, Volume 12, #11
Written by John Metzger
Growing up isnít easy; growing up under the watchful eye of the public is downright impossible. Perhaps the saving grace for Supergrass, then, is that neither its albums nor its singles really have made much of a dent in the American market, which means that the bandís awkward maturation thankfully is being witnessed by scant few. Its latest endeavor, which has been graced with the tongue-in-cheek title Road to Rouen, is by far the groupís most sophisticated statement to date, but itís also its least affecting. In recording the album, Supergrass set up shop in a converted barn in Rouen, Normandy with the end goal of embarking upon its second decade of recording with a newly redefined image. That, it certainly accomplished ó at least in the sense that the singles-driven, Britpop outfit that sculpted the intoxicating Pumping on Your Stereo and the hyper-kinetic Caught by the Fuzz has given way to an experimental pretension that is more befitting of a prog-rock collective.
Not that Supergrassí new direction should be a total surprise. After all, the ensemble has toyed with these concepts before, such as on the symphonic Born Again from its self-titled third LP. However, thereís nary a single to be found within Road to Rouenís midst, and worse, the collective seems to have lost completely the playful edge that once sparked its music. Full of rich, sonic textures, thereís absolutely no doubt that the album is impeccably produced, and although Tales of Endurance (Parts 4, 5 & 6) and Roxy are both tediously long, theyíre also commendably ambitious. Nevertheless, the endeavor is plagued by an insularity that comes from closing oneself off to the world, and as a result, Supergrassí music sounds both carefully calculated and emotionally nondescript.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box