Gaz Coombes – Matador Review

Gaz Coombes - Matador

Like many fellow Britpop stars namely Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher, Gaz Coombes of Supergrass of course is developing his own style as a solo artist and leaving his Britpop pull back in the nineties. He’s recently commented in the Guardian that it was largely overblown anyway and that there were only a few good artists. It seems apt that he’d make such a comment before releasing another collection of contemporary tracks with his second studio album Matador. His 2012 debut Here Come the Bombs was certainly a solid one and was a confirmation (if any was needed) of his song writing prowess and experience. His current album has been a while in the making with the lead single being released over a year before the album back in 2013. So with that in mind you’d imagine a lot of fine tuning has been done too, but was it enough?

‘Buffalo was the first release from some of the early recording sessions Gaz had been doing back in 2013. The song is characterized by the solemn piano bursts, the more spaced out and edgier beat with the distorted and echoed effects. The verse then see’s him turn the volume up on his vocals with great power and just enough rough edged quality with large soundscapes exploding around him. The third phase of the song see’s it suitably tail off with an acoustic and distorted bass sound while he softly sings the song out. The song progressions and altering themes and tones are fantastic and he really allows the song to breath. An eerie and almost nutcracker-like opening starts off ’20/20′ with faded vocals dropping back into the delicate instrumentals. This fragility is gradually tested with the soft piano chords taking over along with the backing vocalists that allow for Gaz to open up his vocals before feeding off into an intricate and intimate acoustic rhythm with a rough, muted pulse behind it. The song utilises the earlier delicate moments to help feed the song into greater constructions of sound with a real burst of musical light upon all the elements arriving at the same point. A song that shows musical discipline paying off handsomely.

‘English Ruse’ is a song that has an easy, rotating rhythm about it via a muffled monotone synth that warps it’s sound as a means to raise the tone of the song and allow for some vocal expansion on Coombes parts. it’s a close track that inspires and contemplative approach to it whilst also having the rhythms to engage it on a more laid back level. It has a brilliant dual purpose and ends with a squealing distorted guitar that masterfully flashes across the closely packed instrumentals as opposed to a heavy, blocky distortion that blows the rest of the track out of the water. ‘Oscillate’ is funnily full of electronic oscillations set about an acoustic base and distant echoing washing of the backing vocals and whirring synths of which Gaz’s vocals can deliver the lyrics with ease and a certain sincerity. ‘Needles Eye’ has a shuffling approach to it about the percussion and riffs that again burst into light in allowing the vocal expansions of the lead and backing vocals with the song easily falling back in and out of this. Tracks such as ‘The Girl who fell to earth’ and ‘Detroit’ are a little more tame musically with well delivered acoustic themes that are focused more on vocal flamboyance and development along with an accomplished lyrical focus. With Matador Gaz has certainly struck a balance between experimentation and  familiarity and has gelled them together in an open and welcoming fashion. An album I certainly underestimated.

Gaz Coombes – Matador = 8.5/10

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