The Press Article
Life On Other Planets
Supergrass have always been a band that, from the outside at least, looked like they were enjoying themselves. Probably too much as it turned out. Their gang mentality and in-jokes that once saw them being courted as the new Monkees, made them the liveliest proposition in the midst of Britpop's arrogant Camden-centric royalty.
How comfortable the band were with this perception was obvious. They weren't. Sure, they were happy to go for the ride and the success it brought but since their blistering debut, the 'Grass have become progressively more withdrawn retreating to enjoy family life amongst other things.
Musically, the so-called "difficult second album" was anything but. Time caught up with them on the third LP which, as its self-titled moniker suggested, lacked inspiration. So, what could the fourth offering hold? A return to the dazzling insanity of their debut or a continued slide downwards? Well, the answer is frankly hard to ascertain.
'Life On The Other Planets' had a difficult birth and it shows. 'Za' continues the tradition of strong album openers but it's a false dawn. There's no assault of 'Richard III' to rattle you, none of the subtlety of 'Moving' or the utter bizarre of 'Mansize Rooster'. Too quickly the album lets your attention stray providing few reasons to return.
The band's playfulness is recaptured in parts but only in the form of half-baked ideas - a multitude of effects, Gaz's Elvis/Marc Bolan vocal, the siren of 'Grace' and the gibberish lyrics of 'Prophet 15' - that raise a smile but make you wonder if they had too much time on their hands.
The sneering 'Never Done Nothing Like That Before' is their spunkiest moment since 'Caught By The Fuzz' while 'LA Song' is a strangely alluring shift in direction, both tracks take them bizarrely enough into Blur territory circa 'Popscene'. On the flip side the lazy 'Can't Get Up', 'Brecon Beacons' and 'Evening Of The Day' are the worst examples of the ad hoc quality of the album that sadly tips the balance towards mediocrity.
What Supergrass desperately required was fresh impetus and to re-establish their identity. What they've produced is an album of patchy brilliance but with far too many freewheeling moments. Let's hope it's a grower.
Chris Heath, Dotmusic - September 2002