As the frontman of Supergrass, Gaz Coombes lead his underrated and underappreciated band of cheeky monkeys through the Britpop movement. Now that Supergrass is currently in the defunct category, Coombes has taken the logical step of branching out as a solo artist. But anyone expecting a rehash or retread of Supergrass material will be pleasantly surprised with the release of ‘Gaz Coombes Presents “Here Come the Bombs” (Hot Fruit), a collection of unconventional songs that, in total, comprise a stunning album.
Starting with ‘Bombs,’ a teaser opening of programmed drumbeats that swells into a subtle music idea which, even with the brevity of the song, is fully fleshed out. Coombes has done great teasers before (see Supergrass’ “In It For The Money”) and this is no exception. But it’s with the next track and first single from the album, “Hot Fruit” that the listener gets an idea of this album’s potential. With a laid back vocal layered over a driving riff and acoustic guitar, this song is a great example of Gaz’s ability to acknowledge Supergrass’ musical history while also mapping out new territory for himself.
Throughout the album, the Brian Wilson/David Bowie-influenced melodies are still there but the arrangements and production are more akin to Radiohead and The Flaming Lips. While one might think this would result in a musical version of a hot mess, the finished product is anything but. This isn’t just someone fiddling with knobs in a studio to see what sort of noise they can create. This is production with a purpose.
For example, “Sub Divider” grows with a slow burn that, after taking a music detour, gradually escalates into a refined rocker of a song. “Simulator” starts off as a light bounce which slams into a heavy chorus and just as easily returns to being boppy on the next verse. “White Noise” is an exquisite ballad that, just as Brian Wilson used the melody from the bridge of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” to open that song, Gaz reuses the melodic line from the bridge of “White Noise” to close out the song perfectly.
Therein lies the strength of this album. In these days of homogenized songs, singers and autotune production, it’s very easy to get used to mediocrity. As a solo artist, Gaz Coombes has pulled off something that isn’t easy to do. He’s managed to create an album of songs that are clever but still completely accessible. It seems the cheeky monkey has grown up.
For more information on Gaz Coombes, go to www.gazcoombes.com.