Album: Supergrass <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

Road to Rouen, PARLOPHONE
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The punning title of Supergrass's fifth album is not without a certain ironic resonance, reflecting as it does the rather shaky position in which the band find themselves as they continue to search for fruitful routes out of Britpop. As with 2002's Life on Other Planets, it was recorded in France, during a period of fretful instability that saw drummer Danny Goffey leave and rejoin the band. Tracks such as "Tales Of Endurance (Parts 4, 5 & 6)" and "Kick in the Teeth", a song about perseverance in the face of betrayal, might be assumed to refer to the band's own situation, though such is the overall tone of whimsical resignation that that's far from certain. Less energetic than previous albums, Road to Rouen draws predominantly on the band's psych-pop influences, with distinct echoes of Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles in "Sad Girl". Several tracks on what is an unusually short album seem like filler: "Road To Rouen" itself is bland, aimless funk-rock, while the guitar instrumental "Coffee In The Pot" is the kind of cabaret kitsch one might expect of John Shuttleworth. The best things about the album are almost incidental elements of tone - the wistful pop slouch of "Low C", and the way that the fluttery strings and vocal harmonies hang around the single "St Petersburg" like perfume. Which hardly seems enough.

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