17 June 2018

Gaz Coombes - World's Strongest Man

Quick story before I start the review.  Before I started this writing up this review, I put up a post about my thoughts on Facebook.  Within two minutes, one of my friends replied with the age-old "I want to say it's Alright".  I'm going to assume that everyone is getting the Supergrass connection, if you didn't know that Gaz Coombes was the frontman of Supergrass, I'll assume you were not here when they were originally around.  The thing about the expected joke though, it sorts of sums up how some of the public feel towards Gaz Coombes and his new music. There is a general misconception that his musical career ended with their first album. 

World's Strongest Man is the third solo album that Mr Coombes has released since Supergrass ended after six studio albums together.  His last solo album, the fantastic Matador (our review cleverly linked here) was one of my end of year list for 2015, it was such a surprise to this blogger.  You could obviously tell it was the same writer, but there was a maturity to the man, a subtle difference that stopped me dead in my tracks.  This marked a change in my attitude to Gaz Coombes in my mind.  He moved from the frontman of Supergrass to Mr Gaz Coombes, the artist.

World's Strongest Man feels as if it was written in a different era when the world was a different place as if it's been in a sealed vault and released in accordance with a last will & testament.  This is a clever album, a minimalist record which combines the art of Talking Heads, the subtle Art Pop noise that takes a lifetime to master.  This is as far away from Supergrass as you can get from the same artist. 

Highlights for me on World's Strongest Man include the fierce "Vanishing Act", the bass-heavy "Walk the Walk" and the divine "Wounded Ego".  To be honest, I could list every song on this album, each of them is a quirky piece of art.  But I'll be honest when they are separated from the pack, they lose a little bit of the charm.  This is an album where the flow of the record is more important than the individual tracks, the collective is more important than the singular song.  This means this is an album to be listened to in its entirety and not an album brimming with singles.  I love this, but as well as being it's biggest strength, it's also its biggest weakness.  Due to the nature of the record, it might be hard for the great unwashed to embrace (shame on them).

This is also an album which you must invest time into, a record where an instant reaction is not going to be forthcoming.  Hence why I'm reviewing it so late after its original release.  My first reaction - Well, that's different once again.  However, as the weeks have gone by, I've discovered little subtleties embedded into this album.  It's not an instant classic, it's a slow burner in the classic sense.  Songs like "The Oaks" take time to get under your skin, they cannot be rushed.  World's Strongest Man is a hidden gem in 2018, one that will take people by surprise.  I reckon that Gaz Coombes is onto a world beater here, but one that might not be for the masses.  If you're looking for something slightly off the beaten path of the mainstream, this could be the album for you.

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost......

Top track - Wounded Ego

You can purchase World's Strongest Man on Amazon here.

You can visit the Gaz Coombes website here.

You can follow the activities of Gaz Coombes on Facebook here.

You can stream World's Strongest Man on Spotify here.

You can stream World's Strongest Man on Deezer here.

You can stream World's Strongest Man on Tidal here.

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