The Press Article
In It For The Money
YE GODS, how we worried. Way back when, three scallywags from rural Oxfordshire rattled out a tune called 'Caught By The Fuzz' and scared everyone over the age of whatever-teen. They were young! They were free! They had teeth! Etcetera! But we knew that such youthful vigour could last only so long. More crucially, we were aware that Supergrass were not one of 'us': they lived in strange dope-hazed houses in the country; they had an abundance of distinctly anti-adolescent facial hair; their vernacular appeared to revolve around the words 'wicked' and 'man'. In short, throw in their dusty record collections and it became screamingly apparent that here was a seriously fuzzy hippy-rock bomb waiting to explode.
Sure enough, reports from their recent South By South West festival appearance hinted at strung-out axe solos and dribbly musical noodlings. The cover of this here record depicts the Supergrass trio in various states of spliff-kissed excess, featuring as it does all manner of double basses and ridiculous headgear. Ker-rist, they look like Ben Folds Five's granddads. After they died. And so the fear strikes hard once again. Like, have the 'Grass finally wombled up their own collective arse? Well, oddly enough, the answer is no. We say "oddly" because herein lurks sufficient evidence of wrinkly old-rock indulgences to ensure that Supergrass should be facing the hep-cat firing squad forthwith. And we say "no" because a) we're feeling petulant, and b) if the thought of wrinkly old-rock indulgence suggests boring-fartcore on a scale of quite frightening drippiness then Supergrass are having the last musical laugh.
Fundamentally, 'In It For The Money' is more fun than watching a wombat in a washing machine. Far from dispensing with the vigorous formula of 'I Should Coco' (the mind boggles as to what they will christen the third album - 'Cor Blimey 'Ave A Banana'? ''Ello John, Gotta New Motor'?) Supergrass have retained said debut's sense of buoyancy and chirpy belligerence and are still so infused with the sense of being the outsiders at the big pop party that they can open their record with a chant of, "In it for the money! We're in it for the money!" in the style of the Electric Light Orchestra without even blushing, let alone laughing.
They can also pile through the opening three tracks (see the title track, current smasheroonie 'Richard III' and 'Tonight') with a quite jaw-droppingly rampant degree of enthusiasm and effervescence, steaming along with brassy blasts, seething choruses and, uh, cornet solos. Just like their all-too-brief appearances at the V96 festivals last August, the first ten minutes of 'In It For The Money' reminds you of precisely everything that made Supergrass so pop-grabbingly, dog-gobbingly gripping in the first place.
The fact that, as well as 'Richard III' and a reborn 'Going Out', 'In It For The Money' features at least another four bona fide cheery chirpy choons designed to shag the Top Ten merely demonstrates just how breezily Supergrass have mastered their craft. To wit, there is the cosmic brilliance of 'Sun Hits The Sky', a pure Top Of The Pops throbalong circa '74 until it pretends to be 'Sympathy For The Devil'. And then there's the immaculate immediacy of 'Cheapskate', with its 'Last Train To Clarksville' guitars and its vibrantly sunny disposition and Gaz beaming, "I need someone to be around, 'cos I'm breaking into life!" like a bloke about to explode with the jumping joys of the world. Chap.
Not that everything is rosy in the Supergrass garden of delights - check the video for 'Richard III' for claustrophobic evidence. The trio - with the temporary exception of the once party-crazed drummer Danny - have always made a point of excusing themselves from the more obvious London-centric pop star circles. And, just as 'I Should Coco' was a storybook of reckless teenage trips and ripping yarns, so segments of 'In It For The Money' somewhat predictably focus on whatever growing pains (and, to be honest, the 'Grass rarely appear to be doubled over in agony) the threesome have endured over the past two years. Cue 'Late In The Day', where Gaz seemingly deploys the classic angst-ridden approach of sitting in a foreign hotel room with only his acoustic guitar for company, howling, "It's late in the day/I'm thinking of you/The things that you say/So long for me". And cue the smashingly sorrowful cynicism of 'You Can See Me', wherein El Gazzo wails, "If you like me, you can buy me and take me home/If you see me on your TV, I'm alone", because that's what every over-exposed pop star has to get off his chest on the second album. It's the law.
And, as laws go, it's about the only one that Supergrass don't bother breaking. To them, rules are for fules and music represents a sodding huge sweet shop from which they are free to liberate whatever the hecksie dexy's they please. So they still have the punkoid energy that originally drove the likes of 'Lose It' and 'Mansize Rooster', but they are never afraid to pomp it up and sound like Wings. They still display that nonchalant, who-cares-less attitude towards the muzak business which surrounds them, yet their blatant worship of certain makes of guitar marks them down as intense musos of the most maddening order.
Which is undoubtedly why they find themselves in this highly distinctive and no doubt extremely lucrative position, feted by both Bratpoppers seeking sonic sauce (check the spaced-out lilt of 'It's Not Me', a Theremin-wobbling cousin of Placebo's 'I Know') and Dadrockers dribbling over the classic riffology (cue the chunky blues of 'G Song').
Because Supergrass are still so uncool (Those hats! Ye Gods! Those hats!) they're actually the coolest sods in town. Too honest to be smug, too natural to be crass, too damn feelgood for their own bleeding health, which ensures the inclusion of the 'notorious' human beatbox escapade 'Sometimes I Make You Sad'... Nope, Supergrass have most certainly not turned their obvious musical proficiency into flabby-jowled, hairy-arsed f??-wittedness. Good.
Still caught by the buzz, then
Simon Williams, NME - 19 April 1997