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Reviewed by David Medsker
That suspicion is grandly confirmed within the first ten seconds of Road to Rouen, the band’s fifth album. Acoustic guitars, horns, and strings abound, and that’s just on the first two tracks. Supergrass, at long last, has officially grown up, and Rouen is a hell of a coming-out party. They still let loose here and there, like on the title track or the spacey “Kick in the Teeth,” which sports a guitar riff not far removed from “If I Needed Someone.” But most of the album is more measured, like the string-drenched “Sad Girl” or the six-minute “Roxy,” which sports a soaring chorus. The most surprising moment may be closing song “Fin,” a drum machine propelled otherworldly ballad that could be a sister to Blur’s “Yuko & Hiro.” For a band that’s best known for tearing songs apart at the seams, they have a surprisingly soft touch to go with it.
All of this, no doubt, will make the “Caught by the Fuzz” contingent most upset, since Road to Rouen doesn’t really rock in the conventional sense. But so what? They’ve always been much, much more than just a rock band anyway. It’s unclear if Rouen is a long term change in direction or just a pit stop on the way to something bigger and even better. In the meantime, accept it as the former, and hope for the latter.