Despite gracing the top three of the UK charts (in as many albums) and being one of the few UK guitar bands other than Radiohead that reduced critics to foam, there was always the suspicion that Supergrass were ingested too deeply by the Britpop mulcher to get noticed alongside the hulking heavyweights that besieged the music tabloids back then. It’s an injustice because no other band of the era covered all the best things of that era – brains, brawn, pop-brilliance and sweaty abandon – so comprehensively. They slunk off in 2010 like the Ronan O’Gara of power-pop, their services no longer required after 17 pogoing years.
Gaz Coombes has kept his wick wet since their split, but Matador is much more focussed recording than could be heard on his 2012 solo debut Here Come The Bombs. Self-produced, it finds him moving into some very interesting, pseudo-cinematic territory that harks back to that widescreen sound Supergrass were always able to conjure. A dramatic tempo change crashes through the precision-hewn piano thrums and soft electro pulses of ‘Buffalo’. Other mini epics lie in wait – see how ‘The English Ruse’’s motorik beat breaks down three quarters of the way through to reveal choirs and orchestration in the parting clouds before diving headlong back into the grinder. The singer’s love of Disney scores feeds into ‘The Girl Who Fell To Earth’, a shuffling Beck-like fairytale of a thing.
That said, the mood is sometimes the heaviest we’ve heard from Coombes – ‘To The Wire’’s sombre loops and grumpy crescendos are a world away from ‘Mansize Rooster’, as is the abrupt termination of the wheezy closing title track. The dreaded “mature” mantle will be hung on Coombes’ 38-year-old shoulders on the back of Matador’s undulating qualities, the euphemism being that he can’t write three-minute pop workouts anymore. So what? But what matters most is that Coombes is in it not for the money (boom-tish) but to expand an already broad horizon.