In the late 90s, Brit-Rock was unavoidable. The battle between Oasis and Blur to claim the top spot was such a big story, it even reached my high school in small town Australia. But now, almost 20 years later, the bands I remember most from back then, and still keep coming back to, are the bands who came through the hole made by Oasis and Blur. They didn’t ride those bands’ coattails, it’s more like they drafted behind them. Bands like Supergrass, with albums like In It For the Money.
Supergrass had already broken through a couple of years earlier with I Should Coco. It’s scrappy, DIY sound, and cheeky, geezer attitude made it almost a novelty record. At least, that’s how I remember it anyway. But In It For the Money had major record label money, record label support and a major record label sound. Straight away, the title track, Richard III and Tonight explode to let us know that more resources doesn’t have to mean less edge. If anything, the Supergrass lads rocked harder here in big budget luxury than they ever had before.
The faux-trippiness of Late in the Day might not be my kind of thing, but it is an impressive display of the band spreading its creative wings and showing that they’re more than just good time rock. An example of wing spreading that is more my thing is the dirty groove of G-Song. Its breakdown/guitar solo is one of the albums cooler, most cocksure moments.
In a lot of ways, Sun Hits the Sky is the same song as Richard IIII. But I’m totally cool with that. These are the two Supergrass songs that have probably had the most play in my life since 1997. And those hundreds of listens have never taken a thing away from how much I love them. They are two songs that I would put up there as some of the best examples of not just late 90s Brit Rock, but late 90s rock in general.
While Going Out sounds like Supergrass doing their best Beatles impression at their excessively biggest, I’m cool with that, because they at least do it kind of well. It’s a simple pop song, dressed up with layers of production and instruments all turned up to 11, but it’s an overblown approach I can appreciate in small doses. And luckily, this is the only time that In It For the Money indulges in this kind of thing.
Looking for more proof that Supergrass are at their best when they’re at their loudest? Look no further than Cheapskate. Its hammond organ fuelled verses border on funk, but it’s when the guitars kick in that this song really soars. While the analogue instruments of You Can See Me are used in a way to make an almost digital sound, while still be clear guitar rock. It’s an odd sound and an interesting experiment. But one song like this is about all this record needed.
And it’s about this time that you can press ‘stop’ on In It For the Money and be on you merry way, having enjoyed a pretty great rock record. Because the only thing that makes Hollow Little Reign sound even half decent, is that it’s followed by the fuck-around, waste of time that is Sometimes I Make You Sad.
Supergrass may not have opened the door for Brit Rock to the rest of the world, but they were one of the first bands to charge through it head first once Oasis and Blur did do the opening. And, were one of the bands to do it best. Solid rock, with a unique twist and singular voice that is always nothing more and nothing less than Supergrass.