Gaz Coombes – Matador

Review of Gaz Coombes' Matador album.


Gaz Coombes has come a long way from his fresh faced Britpop days as the frontman of Supergrass. 2012 saw the release of his debut solo album ‘Here Come the Bombs’ that was praised by critics, and now he’s releasing follow-up ‘Matador’ – an album of heart-on-sleeve dreamy synthesiser ballads.  


Sonically, the album is a balancing act between the electronic, mechanical (even harsh) synth sounds and the delicate patter of more traditional rock band sounds. Standout track ‘20/20’ captures this balance, with snatches of fingerpicked acoustic guitar floating over a brittle electronic bass line that crackles with distortion. It’s a full and captivating sound, with choruses that explode magnificently; and although it sounds anthemic that doesn’t mean there’s some stadium rock formula followed here. Songs unfurl themselves languidly with no obligation to follow any well-trodden path. ‘The English Ruse’ threatens to descend into cliché, and my first-listen notes read “if this ends with an effing double chorus I’m turning the album off”, but it doesn’t – a fiery, dissonant synth explodes out of the lull and flails wildly.


There’s a lot of raw emotion bared here, with sombre lyrical points coming as Coombe’s exposes vulnerability about personal loss and drug struggles. Yet there always seems to be a thread of twinkling optimism running through – every vocal warble and every rising riff sounds like new beginnings – and Coombe’s playfully juggles this duality, like on track ‘To The Wire’ where he croons “I wanna cut myself… / cut myself down”. It’s an exciting album, and ‘Matador’ proves that Coombes has got a lot more to offer than just exuberant Britpop and massive sideburns.


Joe Moulam 8/10

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