Greatest hits: album reviews

Music review: Gaz Coombes' Matador his most mature album yet

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 February, 2015, 11:20pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 April, 2015, 4:55pm

Gaz Coombes
Hot Fruit Records

This May will mark the 20th anniversary of I Should Coco, the invigorating and sublime debut album from Oxford Britpop gang Supergrass.

In an era that was dominated by a Blur vs Oasis chart battle, Supergrass trod their own fun creative path and were one of the brightest and most underrated bands of a hedonistic movement that spawned more than its fair share of lame copycat guitar bands.

But despite six acclaimed albums of breezy pop gems, they always remained a cultish favourite and in 2010 they finally called it a day. Following on from his 2012 debut solo offering Here Come the Bombs, mutton-chopped frontman Gaz Coombes, now nearing 40, returns with Matador, and not surprisingly it's his most mature and impassioned effort to date.

Self-penned and self-produced, it kicks off with Buffalo, and as soon as Coombes blasts out the swelling chorus, "Cause all my tears, turn to sand/ Are you my only hope/ Rode in circles, I lost my way/ I found the only road", it becomes apparent that he's hitting a songwriting high.

Recent single 20/20 follows with its gospel leanings before quickly shifting paths into a slow-building groove of glitchy programmed beats.

Matador is heavy on woozy electronica throughout, but Coombes still manages to blend confessional melancholy with melodic joy, sounding closest to his old band on the anthemic Detroit.

Cinematic stand-out Seven Walls is a sumptuous, intimate ballad written with his wife about their young courtship - "Let's walk down to Jericho, share a little smoke" - and it's only surpassed by the heartbreaking To the Wire. After two decades of glorious pop music this is much, much more than all right.