The Press Article

There is a semi-nightly satire show here in England - not unlike Comedy Central's The Daily Show - which pokes irreverent fun at the events of the day, be it a mayoral race or the latest and greatest radio single. The 11 O'clock Show - with its made-up news flashes and obnoxious man-on-the-street interviews - is at the same time both a trend-setter and a tradition-follower when it comes to the tongue-in-cheek ancestry of British comedy. In the trailers for its new spin-off - Da Ali G Show - the program's eponymous, Fubu-frocked, self-proclaimed voice of the young generation accosts a bewildered Gaz Coombes - lead singer of London's Supergrass - saying, "Jus' 'cause you's band's called Supertramp, don't mean ya gotta dress like a bum." Gee ... clever, G.

Music isn't generation-specific, and few bands have figured that out quite like Supergrass have. While it's perpetually popular in Britain to rip-off the vibe of the forefathers (not to mention standing on their shoulder), the young lads in Supergrass have managed to rock close enough to even the Stones' henge without earning themselves a lawsuit in the process. With retro sounds (which really aren't retro anymore, if you wanna get technical) like tinkly organs (gorgeously done in "Jesus Came From Outer Space") and playful puns and phrasing that would make Ray Davies sick with envy (and probably does), Coombes, drummer Danny Goffey, bassist Mickey Quinn and keyboardist Rob Coombes, mix so many styles and influences on Supergrass that simple comparisons collapse. From the sweetly transporting, awesomely anachronistic opener, "Moving," to the absolute, cigarettes-out-the-sunroof, muppet-frenzy of "Pumping on Your Stereo," the band sounds equal parts charming, witty and wise. And even though most of what grows below their turf is more likely to be the stuff collecting cobwebs in your dad's record collection than in the latest club or garage compilations, it's not like you can stamp a sell-by date on fun. And, heck, Supergrass have even managed to earn themselves credibility with the fringe-ier set, by getting themselves a video banned from daytime TV, with their bloody "Mary."

Where Brit-pop/rock ancestry is concerned, Supergrass are both cutting edge and par for the course - ahead of their time, and born years too late, but that's all in the great spirit of the blurred-generations of music and all. They have a knack for making an old sound new, without the new one sounding knackered. Nevermind the Buzzcocks, the band's self-titled third album is Brit rock at the absolute of what it's supposed to be: cute, quirky, irreverent, irrelevant, pissed and precious - music that makes just as much sense looped between Blur and S Club 7 on the pop stations, or played overtop a late-night, pot-smoke-enhanced viewing of Forbidden Planet. And, yes, even placed on an album rack next to corny, culty Supertramp.

So maybe through just being his usual smartassed, voice-of-youth self, Sir Ali inadvertently hit on something there...

Spin (US), - 19 April 2000