The songs are pretty, the production is crisp and as always, Coombes' voice is formidable, but he doesn't give himself any room to let loose here. After an encouraging start with the flamboyantly sung chorus on "Buffalo," most of these tracks plod along at a sluggish pace. There are electronic flourishes here and there, and some orchestral touches thrown in, but the record is almost devoid of any of the fun and weird energy you'd expect, given his former band's impeccable track record. Just when you think things are going to kick into high gear, we instead get more restraint and another dose of gospel-tinged backing vocals.
It's easy to get behind the contemplative, melancholy vibe of the record, but why shouldn't a mature solo effort have hooks? The penultimate Supergrass record, Road To Rouen, mined similar grown-up territory with much more memorable results.
As any Supergrass fan knows, Coombes is insanely talented, and the first minute and a half of "Detroit" (right before the gospel choir comes in) is a great example of what Matador might have been. Here's hoping he goes for the spoiler and the tinted windows next time around. (Hot Fruit)