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Gaz Coombes

World's Strongest Man (Caroline)

By • Aug 5th, 2018 • Category: long players

Gaz Coombes is/was the erstwhile singer/songwriter with Supergrass, often bundled in with Britpop but in fact, after the choppers were discarded and they brushed their teeth again, proved over 4 (or so) albums to be committed musos in the classic pop/rock vein.  They came to a natural end around a decade ago and this is Coombes’ third solo effort, the previous one ‘Matador’ especially gaining some critical acclaim.

So unlike quite a few things BM tends to review, this is the work of a mature, possibly world-weary musician who has got over what stardom means and is now trying to make sense of the world.  These are dense, sophisticated songs which reference just bloody everything, from Bowie to deep electronica, and for BM the most important thing is that some of these tracks have real soul, after the multi-tracks have died down and the slightly modern day Bryan Ferry via Prince ennui has been steadied.

The highlights come quite early on and in fact the pace of the first three tunes would leave most people of Gaz (and BM’s) vintage needing a bit of lie down, especially the Bee Gees-referencing ‘Walk The Walk’. 

Things slow down for a couple of tracks before the beautiful ‘Wounded Egos’, a mid-paced peach which recalls bucolic memories vs a krautrock backdrop…  this guy takes his music seriously, and is seriously talented…

‘In Waves’ has a ridiculously twangy opening riff and then goes quite experimental with the noise, could be XTC meeting The Beta Band, or something… but it is a thing of quality.

A different thing entirely, is ‘The Oaks’, with a big bass riff kicking into tribal drums – English melancholy writ large, with meandering musings on dark thoughts….

‘Vanishing Act’ is a suggestive title and appears to be some thoughts on rock star fame and the pressures of it…it certainly pounds along, as Gaz tries to “get his fiiiiking head straight” – a glorious wig-out, although he probably doesn’t need a wig quite yet…

Closing track and coda ‘Weird Dreams’ is slow and a bit hazy – maybe a love song, strung out but melodious, and even a bit trip-hop at times, a nice ending…

This is a substantial piece of work and BM would expect to see it in a lot of the “serious” music press records of the year – it is certainly worth a listen, and you might be surprised what rewards it brings.

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