Album Review: Gaz Coombes - Matador

4 February 2015 | 9:08 am | Mac McNaughton

"Nothing short of heartbreaking."

More Gaz Coombes More Gaz Coombes

The first time Gaz Coombes released a solo album (2012’s Here Come The Bombs), he was desperately trying to shake free of his oik-ish Supergrass legacy while proving himself to be all grown up.

It was fun enough but returning with Matador it’s clear that Coombes is yet to find his peace. Fair play to him, it’s been a rough few years and he’s got some pretty massive shadows from which to escape. This is the man responsible for massive Britpop anthems Alright and Caught By The Fuzz but who also managed to sustain his band with the terrific likes of Grace and Moving. The man has chops – literally. Initial listens to Matador however raise one key bemused thought: where is the vim? The answer lies in the fact that Coombes has simply dropped the larrikin quality once and for all.

Matador is front-loaded with seriousness, scant of big choruses, but before you know it, you’re halfway in and Seven Walls has him staggering from a tequila bar wailing, “Don’t step on the cracks ‘cause I want you tonight.” Coombes sounds absolutely alienated, a solo labouring that sounds deceptively lush, but it’s rabbit-out-of-the-hat illusion with The Girl Who Fell To Earth’s obsession with inhuman ‘computer love’. And that’s when it hits you just how personal this record is. For a bloke whose very reputation was founded in camaraderie, the final moments’ claim that “The hardest fight is the one you fight alone” is nothing short of heartbreaking.