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Gaz Coombes - World's Strongest Man (Album Review)

Tuesday, 15 May 2018 Written by Graeme Marsh

Still regarded in some quarters as ‘the guy from Supergrass’, Gaz Coombes’ latest collection, ‘World’s Strongest Man’, is his third solo outing since the Oxford trio split eight years ago. His previous effort, ‘Matador’, received high praise, with its concoction of Radiohead’s originality and occasional U2-esque anthemic highs netting a deserved Mercury Prize nomination.

Listing Frank Ocean and Neu! among the influences for his new album, Coombes largely retains the Radiohead element but also spins off in other notable directions to create something fresh, relevant and fascinating.

The lead single, Deep Pockets, is the most obvious Neu! reference, as a hollow, echoing krautrock beat rubs shoulders with industrial sounds for a racing, addictive track.

Another cracking cut, Walk the Walk, also appeared pre-album release and its cool, funky core entwines with tortured vocals and backing cribbed from the Bee Gees’ Stayin’ Alive.

Throughout, ‘World’s Strongest Man’ has a strong sense of originality. The title track opens the LP and is dominated by Coombes’ falsetto alongside bubbling synths and twangy guitar.

The hip swagger of In Waves provides another highlight, with its quirky conclusion particularly memorable. Unusual percussion drives The Oaks and the compelling, but slightly confused, Oxygen Mask bears a slight scent of Radiohead’s Burn the Witch.

Wounded Egos takes inspiration from Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall with its backing vocals - “wounded egos, right-wing psychos” - recorded by producer Ian Davenport after a whirlwind trip to his own child’s school. The closing curio, Weird Dreams, is spellbinding. Haunting harmonies, a brush of R&B, fuzzy synths and chimes combine for a real gem, and with the likes of the serene, piano-led Slow Motion Life there’s something for everyone here.

‘World’s Strongest Man’ suggests that Coombes has become an essential artist in his own right, and it’s about time the Supergrass tag was left behind. He has clearly developed into one of the most intriguing and consistent songwriters operating in the UK, and all under his own steam.

Gaz Coombes Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu May 17 2018 - GLASGOW Glasgow Garage
Fri May 18 2018 - LIVERPOOL Arts Club
Sat May 19 2018 - LEEDS Church
Mon May 21 2018 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute2 Birmingham
Tue May 22 2018 - BRISTOL Trinity Centre
Wed May 23 2018 - LONDON London Palladium
Fri May 25 2018 - DUBLIN Academy
Thu June 14 2018 - CARLISLE Brickyard
Fri June 15 2018 - LINCOLN Engine Shed
Sat June 16 2018 - NORWICH Open
Thu June 21 2018 - LEICESTER Dryden Street Social
Fri June 22 2018 - STOKE Sugarmill

Click here to compare & buy Gaz Coombes Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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