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Everything from country rock to Beatles-like grooves, Life On Other Planets, the fourth album from Supergrass, treats the listener to electronic pop-rock as diverse as the liquors in Keith Richards's personal bar. The British trio liquefies tracks in the vein of American artists such as Grandaddy and Radiohead turned electronic pop. Did I mention they do electronic pop?
"Za," the opening creation, slowly fades in, synthesizing a brief, classical intro - if "classical" translates as the soundtrack of A Clockwork Orange. Suddenly the intro ends and a Ben Kweller piano takes its place. A few measures. Then beats. We taste the tempo, the natural progression, and then it hits: BAM! Everyone comes flooding in: bass beats, guitars and synthesizes melded into a mobius melody with one endless arch of sweet audio libation. The vocals echo with distortion and the song is complete. It's a lucid, insanely high-quality opening; the question is, can they maintain this level throughout the album?
Like "Za," the next track, "Rush Hour Soul," continues the ferocity and pushes it further - catapulting the musicianship to the next level. It's fast, it's complex, it's hard to describe. Abundant rhythms and copious electronics? Perhaps. Or simply, it's Supergrass.
And they've got diversity: "Brecon Beacons" is a fun filled electronic wonderland, "Grace" sounds like a Velvet Underground cover though it's not (I checked), "Can't Get Up" delves into Strokes territory but better, and "Evening of the Day" is a - get this - country rock jam. Yes, insanity. Lock 'em up, they've been smokin' that super grass.
In all seriousness, the real treat of the album is "Seen the Light." A well-crafted track with great transitions and a killer melody, "Seen the Light" is a blueprint for alternative pop-rock. You can't NOT groove along to hang claps and familiar chords. And it rocks. A lot. After one listen, those who thought rock and roll was dead, realize it was just on hiatus all this time, waiting for the new millennium.
Or maybe rock was stone cold and lifeless. If so, Supergrass has revived it with a serious dose of electronic superpop called Life On Other Planets. Roll it up, swallow it, and inject it into your system today.
Eric Myers is a Contributing Writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.