It’s not actually that difficult to spot why this record didn’t turn Supergrass into one of the nation’s biggest bands. Not because it’s not great, because it is, but because it’s a curious beast. Off the back of the out and out fun of ‘I Should Coco’, ‘In It For The Money’ was a textured, meticulously structured headfuck for plenty of young green people with nice, clean teeth. As ‘G-Song’ roars and flails its way to its conclusion towards the end of side 1, it’s hard to align the sound with the band responsible for ‘Alright’ and ‘Mansize Rooster’. The trick, I’m willing to suggest, is to use ‘Lenny’ as your reference point from the debut and then it starts to make a little more sense. That one, joyously noisy, cleverer than it seems, burst of incendiary indie explosives contains enough hints that this band were not only seriously capable, but also ridiculously astute in their building of sound.
‘In It For The Money’ is a wonderfully warm record, with noodly keyboards, twiddly bass parts and soaring guitar riffs that never go stale. It occurred to me this week that I hadn’t dusted down the vinyl of this one since upgrading the stylus a few months back, and once I’d picked it out again, it wasn’t going back in a hurry. The drifting drums and improvised guitar sounds across the end of ‘Sun Hits The Sky’ are amongst my favourite moments in indie-pop history. It’s a euphoric celebration of sound tacked on to an astoundingly tight chart smash. It probably shouldn’t be there, but that’s probably why it works so well. Sometimes you desperately want a bit more of your favourite songs and on occasions like this, it seems like a bloody good idea.
‘Going Out’, which appeared as a single almost a year ahead of the rest of the album, is a blistering start to side 2, somehow managing to combine a thin piano sound, swirling organ part and thundering guitars into an attacking force will leave you breathless. I never appreciated just how great this song was when it came out as a single. The bold, brassy sounds had a shade of Britpop about them and, forgive me for this, it felt a bit like it was trying too hard to fit in. I was staggeringly wide of the mark, but it took me a while to change my opinion. No such prevarication with the song that follows it, ‘It’s Not Me’, which is a track that should be used to demonstrate the sonic capabilities of shit-hot headphones. It’s a quite brilliantly arranged stereo soundscape which gently tickles every little corner of your ears, leaving me genuinely awestruck by the power of music.
All of this and I’ve not even mentioned two of the album’s vastly different but equally sublime singles. ‘Richard III’ prefaced the album and only served to emphasise the change in direction from ‘I Should Coco’. Short, sharp and bloody loud, it took a bit of getting used to and I remember thinking that it jarred a little alongside your average daytime fare on Radio 1 when it first appeared. Thirteen years later, it was clearly the perfect way to signal a notable gearshift ahead of the album proper as it took the core idea of a naggingly familiar melody, an ever-present tactic on the debut, and bulked out the sound without ever seeming bloated.
That this record is thirteen years old is actually quite staggering. While it no longer feels like a recent release, it doesn’t feel like something that belongs in the Nineties Museum along with Loaded, Menswear and TFI Friday. Indeed, ‘In It For The Money’ is the one Supergrass outing that can lay claim to being truly timeless. If you told me it was an early Seventies overlooked gem, I could believe it. ‘Diamond Hoo Ha’ is the closest they’ve come to putting out a sub-standard record, and even that has its redeeming features, but ‘In It For The Money’ ensures a very, very high watermark. Those who read the interview with Gaz and Danny on this blog a couple of weeks ago will remember the former’s comments about the forthcoming Supergrass album. “There are some amazing songs on there, songs that I can imagine playing in a vast stadium somewhere. I’m really, really pleased. This record began life as a sort of free for all; we were swapping around our instruments, keeping things fresh and spontaneous. It’s like our little ‘White Album’. It’s just been tightened up week after week in terms of making it into a record that’s really powerful. It’s not as rock and roll as ‘Diamond Hoo Ha’. I think it’s just a psychedelic record. ‘In It For The Money’ was quite a psychedelic record, and I think this is probably our most psychedelic record for a good few years. It’s hard to say exactly but it’s sounding wicked.” If it is even half as good as the album to which it has been compared, then I will be more than content. Here’s hoping.