Review Summary: Energetic arrival of britpop's brightest lights.
Out of Oxford, UK in the early 1990s came a new, exciting, and energetic brand of pop music invented by the awesomely cool Supergrass. Blending elements of punk, britpop, classic 70s rock, and beatles-esque pop, Supergrass arrived in a testosterone-fuelled flurry of screaming power chords, cheeky vocals and well-crafted pop hooks and melodies. When you listen to their now legendary debut, 'I Should Coco', you realise that such a brash yet polished sound could only have been created by a youthful, energetic group of musical prodigies. And Supergrass were so young when this record was released - Gaz Coombes, vocalist guitarist and chief songwriter, was only 19.
What hits you as soon as you set 'I Should Coco' loose on your speakers is the raw energy and spirit that drives the album. From the thundering, lighting-fast guitar intro to 'I'd Like To Know' to the instantly recognisable piano-pop of 'Alright', the band's most famous song, the energy never dies, sustained over nearly 45 minutes. Though the songs on 'I Should Coco' are simple, they are refined and interesting enough for the album never to get boring or stale. This is in many ways a pop-punk record - yet it takes a difference approach to the genre than some of the American bands of the time, like Green Day etc. It is fundamentally British, from Gaz's perhaps over-egged cockney yelps to the undeniable influence of such English acts as the Kinks, the Beatles and the Who. Supergrass wear their influences on their sleeve without looking like they've just copied tunes - the spectre of 70s classic rock looms in the background and in the melodies, though it may not be so obvious at first. But Coombes, Goffey and Quinn have an absolute mastery over their musical styles, and so are able to incorporate these influences with taste and flair.
'Alright' is inevitably the best-known song on the album, and has since become synonymous with the erstwhile teenage rebelliousness that continually drives popular music along. However, it would be so very wrong to write Supergrass off as one-hit wonders based on the popularity of this single track, as so many seem to do. Equally excellent cuts from this album include the single 'Caught by the Fuzz', 'Mansize Rooster', 'Sitting Up Straight' and 'Lose It'. These are all great examples of the energetic and razor-sharp style that embodies Supergrass, but the album also shows that the group can do acoustic ('Time To Go') and meditative ('Time') well too. They refused to be pigeonholed into a single genre, and this completes the album's comprehensive achievement.
When a band produces a debut album as extraordinarily accomplished and as well-produced as 'I Should Coco', doubts are instantly raised about their ability to produce material of a similar standard in the future. Supergrass, with their next albums, chose to mellow out, and though their career has produced fantastic rock songs since 'I Should Coco', its raw energy was never again captured. This is good and bad; though it is a shame that their raw talent was never put so explicitly on view again, it allowed the band to broaden their horizons and become a more diverse and refined unit. However, for any Supergrass fan, it is always 'I Should Coco' that is the band's crowning achievement. Listen to it, and absorb its energy and spirit.