ANDY GILL ON ALBUMS; Supergrass In It for the Money Parlophone CDP CS 7388

'Brimful of vim and vigour, it's the sound of glorious spring, of new life bursting out'

Continuing their ransacking of the retro-pop style hamper, Supergrass have, as expected, toughened up their sound somewhat since I Should Coco, developing that album's echoes of The Who and adding a few more subtle colours to their palette too.

In the case of "Sun Hits the Sky", this means that the classic Who elements - the splashy drums, the ornate bassline, and the razor riffing - are augmented with nerdy analogue synth sounds and an Eastern-flavoured percussive coda, all very Who's Next, while "You Can See Me" seems inspired more by Who Are You. But there's a galloping euphoria to much of the album which Townshend & Co long since lost, if they ever had it at all. As Gaz Coombes sings in "Cheapskate": "Somebody stop me / 'Cos I'm breaking into life!" Brimful of vim and vigour, it's the sound of glorious spring, of new life bursting out to meet the sun, just as, later on, the wistful bliss of "It's Not Me" basks in its reflective warmth.

Their growing eclecticism leads Supergrass in some unforeseen directions here, from the spine-tingling Neil Young-style guitar of "G Song" to the cosmic-idiot whine of the theremin which pops up at various points. Particularly impressive are the horn arrangements which decorate the album, adding dashes of ironic pomp or more complex moods to songs like the title-track and "Hollow Little Reign", two of several self-effacing glances at their own celebrity. Eclecticism, however, is a double-edged sword, and sometimes their desire for something different pulls a song completely out of shape, as with the huffing vocal percussion, wheezy keyboard and mad Django-esque guitar run in the closing "Sometimes I Make You Sad", as plainly bonkers as anything the Beatles came up with in their daftest moments. But for most of its course, In It for the Money tacks entertainingly between the raucous and the reflective, moving forward even as it leans toward the past.

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