As many of my longterm readers know, I’m great at starting things and terrible at finishing them. So here’s another I’ll start, and well, we’ll just see how it goes. Apart from Oasis, Blur, and a few hits from various other artists, Britpop seemed to totally miss me as a teenager, so now I’m meant to be a proper grown-up, why not go back and listen to some possible lost gems I may have missed a decade or two ago?
This album sold around a million copies worldwide and was nominated for Best Album in the 1995 Mercury Music Awards. Its final (and best selling) single reached #2 in the UK charts and is one of the ‘Britpoppest’ songs you could imagine. It was also named as one of the 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die, so I better have a listen so!
Supergrass – I Should Coco
I remember Supergrass being fairly big during my TGI Friday formative years – weren’t they one of the bands Chris Evans regularly had on? – but off the top of my head, I’d find it hard to name one of their songs. I remember that video with Gaz and the lads in a bed, but I couldn’t really recall the tune. Having never listened to a Supergrass record in full, this would be a perfect start to my reevaluation of Britpop.
Opener ‘I’d Like to Know’ is all fuzzy-guitars and repetitive lyrics and despite its simplicity, works well as an opener and opens the way into much better songs. Looking back through 2000-tinted glasses, ‘Caught By the Fuzz’ seems to be a precursor to all those “oi oi geezer” rambles Alex Turner loves to describe in his songs, and has all the staples of a great live tune. It’s immediately followed by second single ‘Mansize Rooster’, which is an alright tune, but I’m not sure whether it stands the test of time. Had I listened to it back in 1995, I probably would’ve loved it though.
Ahhh, ‘Alright’, this is the tuuuunnneee I remember with the bed video. Kind of feels out of place given what’s gone before on the record. Far ore polished and shiny than the opening three songs, and rehearing it in its natural environment doesn’t feel right. After years of visiting zoos to look at the monkeys, seeing one out in the jungle is somewhat off-putting. I can see why it was so huge, but should I ever revisit I Should Coco in the future, I might have to skip this song. Ruined by its own popularity? Definitely.
‘Lose It’ returns to the feel of the first quarter, but despite my reservations about ‘Alright’, seems to suffer merely because it follows straight after. It could do with the sheen of that single, and a bit more clarity could have made it a great song. ‘Lenny’ on the other hand, I really like. Highpoint of the album so far? Definitely. Has all the feel of the Britpop we love and remember, without a Gallagher or Albarn in sight.
‘Strange Ones’ has all the sound and feel of a Mick Jagger-led tune, and really should have been a single. So much better than ‘Alright’, it easily could have been an anthem to soundtrack our youth. ‘Sitting Up Straight’ and ‘She’s So Loose’ really highlight the fact that a lot of indie music that came out of England in the 2000s was pure dirge. Neither are groundbreaking tunes, but they’re so much better than the crap that was churned out by hundreds of post-Libertines/post-Monkeys bands who all sounded and looked the same.
The helium-filled ‘We’re Not Supposed To’ sounds a bit cheesy in 2011, but this low-point is counteracted by the excellent riffage which follows on ‘Time’. Six minute ‘Sofa (Of My Lethargy)’ is another typical Britpop tune, and reminds me of the little bit of Suede I remember hearing back in the day – which is definitely not a bad thing – Britpop was meant to have its own sound after all, so shouldn’t some of it sound the same? Closer ‘Time to Go’ gently eases us to the end, and is a nice, if unexciting way to end the album.
Having never heard I Should Coco before, I’m delighted with the fact that this has allowed me to uncover a fairly solid album I otherwise wouldn’t have bothered with. I blame ‘Alright’. Had they never released it as a single, I might have checked it out a lot sooner.
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