Album Review: Gaz Coombes

here come the bombs (emi)

Following the break-up of Supergrass in 2010 frontman Gaz Coombes has been keeping busy creating solo work. Late last month saw the release of Here Come The Bombs, his debut as solo, and with a feel somewhat wider and more eclectic compared to Supergrass.

Supergrass have always had a special place in my heart since I first saw them in Spring 1995 (March 4th specifically - Flyer Here). Support came from The Bluetones and both bands were on the cusp of radioplay and much bigger things, fired up and the night remains one of my favourite gigs - I seem to remember Gaz channelling the spirit of Jimi Hendrix in a bizarrely poppy but extremely loud fashion. I went out the next day and bought up anything I could find by both bands, which at the time wasn't much - and my ears perked up at every mention of either on the Mark and Lard Radio 1 late-night slot, which I was into seriously religiously back then.

Since then and 2008 Supergrass pumped out a total of six albums, although nothing quite topped the superpowers of debut I Should Coco, I can't honestly think of another record where ALL the tracks could so easily be singles. Sadly, by 2010 the band called it a day, even at the point of almost releasing a seventh LP ( Release the Drones), rumoured to be have been more krautrocky/droney/experimental than earlier material. With Gaz's Here Come The Bombs seeing the light of day - it's not hard to wonder whether some of that direction has leaked through into his solo debut. Perhaps. Not too overtly, but there's a decided hint of something along those lines going on.

Having put out Sub Divider as a free download early in the year (quite a 'low-key to pounding' builder), Hot Fruit appeared as the first official single from the album - alongside a fairly nuts promo video and yes, it's easy to see why this is the lead single: there's motorik beats, wonky backing and explosive choruses all round. Expected statospherics towards the end arrive and batter all else to oblivion. Cracking tune.

With Hot Fruit probably being the most upfront track on the LP (Simulator a close second) the question remains whether all cards have been played by the second track? OK, so the electronic swathes of Bombs opens the album, followed up with the analogue detonation of Hot Fruit - I get the impression that those two put together state a manifesto for the rest of Here Comes The Bombs. If it's deliberate, it's an effective use of tracklisting with those looking for something old (sounding a bit Supergrassy) and those looking for something new both being served up succinct samples - almost a TL:DR situation.

What's really interesting however is the style of the album as a whole. You can't stand up and say "It's experimental", it's not really - but it does draw upon a whole bunch of musical styles such as psychedelia, krautrock, drone, allsorts of 'odd' and highly individualistic colours dropped in the palette and on a fair few tracks (eg. Break The Silence which humps along nicely) augmented by some wicked electro beats. There's something of the 'synthetic' feel of say Radiohead about much of the LP - but that's synthetic in the sense of blending things from all over the place, not artificial. Universal Cinema maybe take the Radiohead thing a little too close however.

Anyhow, enough from me - there's (for as a long as it lasts) a SoundCloud preview via The Guardian below so make your own mind(s) up. For me, I've so far totally enjoyed and really like Gaz's debut, not going to say I love it, not just yet - but anything that manages to sound retroclectically 1972 and 2012-ish at the same time (in the voice of someone who to my ears will always be in 1995) goes down in my books as 'Rather Fine Indeed'.