Gaz Coombes can write a song. This we know. The former frontman of Supergrass penned some of the most iconic tracks of the Britpop era, shooting out of the blocks with 1995’s I Should Coco, an album that sold faster than any debut issued by Parlophone since the Beatles’ Please Please Me. But since those heady days, when no festival was complete without a mass singalong of Supergrass’ ‘Alright’, Coombes has cemented his place in the pantheon of great British songwriters with his solo career.
Coombes’ solo work combines baroque pop, groove-driven rock and his more experimental urges, with the Mercury and Ivor Novello nominated Matador being a highlight among three great albums released from 2012 to 2018. But none come close to his latest record, Turn the Car Around, in which the 47 year old sounds every bit as inspired as he did at the zenith of his Supergrass days.
Written and recorded by Coombes in his ramshackle Oxfordshire outhouse studio, Turn The Car Around is a deeply-felt record in which densely textured anthems (‘Long Live The Strange’) nestle up next to gorgeous, moving ballads about his family (‘Not the Only Things’) and lurking groovers about, um, lizard metamorphosis (‘Feel Loop’).
Released after the gripping and achingly beautiful ‘Sonny The Strong’ (which tells the story of a murdered middleweight boxing champion), the groove-led, synth-heavy single ‘Don’t Say It’s Over’ is arguably the album’s highlight. It approaches Michael Kiwanuka territory in its gloriously expansive orchestration, while there’s more than a shade of Thom Yorke in the stunning vocal delivery.
And it must be said that Coombes voice, a powerful pop instrument, is in impeccable form across the record. As are his band, who bring huge energy to the tracks Coombes has written. Catch them all – Coombes, his band, and the excellent new album – at Band on the Wall on 24 March.