Life On Other Planets

Island Records

The latest from this Brit-pop quartet revisits all the old touchstones that have informed their work to date, and shows us a few new tricks as well. Marc Bolan haunts the opener “Za,” a bouncy piano driven ditty that recalls “Alright” from the band’s 1995 debut I Should Coco. Early Bowie is saluted on “Seen the Light,” a seemingly tossed-off number that features a weird synth solo and an Elvis impersonation from singer Gaz Coombes. With the retro synth pop excursion of “Brecon Beacons,” the band moves forward a decade to the ’80s.

But, it’s songs like “Can’t Get Up” and “Evening of the Day” that really show the band’s growth and represent some of their most serious efforts at song craft. “I’m just living a story / Like I heard it on 45,” Coombes sings on the former. “Funniest Thing” further evinces character the band can call its own.

Elsewhere, “Never Done Nothing Like That Before” is a brief, noisy rocker of the type the band has produced before; “Grace” is a whizzy and catchy first single with the shout-along chorus of “Save your money for the children”; tuneless, nonsensical verses and a sunny, melodic chorus are juxtaposed on “LA Song”; and, loads of dreamy harmonies make “Run” sound like a lost nugget from the 10CC catalogue. The only misstep here is “Prophet 15” which gratuitously pilfers the melody from Paul McCartney’s “Let ‘Em In.”

Life On Other Planets isn’t quite as much fun as previous Supergrass releases; perhaps, a sign that the boys are growing up. Nevertheless, they haven’t outgrown their record collections though, and that’s a good thing.

Island Records: • Supergrass:

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