Most people know Gaz Coombes more for his work as lead vocalist of Supergrass and lesser so for his solo career. However it appears the multi-instrumentalist is set to change this with his second solo release, ‘Matador’. This collection of sophisticated and grand tracks that remain continually influenced by Coombes’ Brit-pop roots have set the critical world alight since the release. One only needs to listen to the aggressive, experimental opener ‘Buffalo’ with a building, frantic chorus backed by evangelic vocalists to see that Gaz holds adoration for the theatrics of show.
The epic ’20/20′ sits somewhere on the spectrum between Queen and David Bowie, a varied and ever-changing vocal pulls together the track that skips jovially between aggressive acoustic strumming to all-consuming barrage of percussion and choir as Coombes proudly bellows ‘I’ll take the hurricane for you’. The songwriter may be his most open on ‘Matador’ as he explains the tribulations and stresses involved in being part of an immensely popular Supergrass in ‘Detriot’ and the influence in which drugs played upon his conscious and physical well being.
A sense of grandeur remains throughout as the heartfelt ballad ‘Seven Walls’ rumbles and gurgles accompanied by the sound of laughter before Coombes’ erupts in sorrowful crooning and wailing. ‘The Girl Who Fell To Earth’ is meanwhile laced with dreamy violin and feels like an outtake from Lykke Li’s latest album as Gaz wistfully weaves narrative like a beatnik poet. The finale comes in the form of ‘To The Wire’ which is Coombes at his most emotive and raw, a real battle of tender frustration as the backing track frantically explodes in an array of activity whilst Gaz pleads ‘stay in my heart’. As the final beats of the album simmer down you are left with a proud proclamation, ‘I’ll fight like a matador’ and its ambience resonates as the gargantuan production and emotive weight of this record acts almost as a battle call; a statement of Gaz Coombes’ intent as a soloist, an incredibly worthy intent it is.