Once the short-term benefits of a mid-career greatest hits album — renewed interest, confirmation of status, royalties — wear off, things get dicey: if a subsequent release suggests even the slightest dip in quality, it and any future output are viewed as inessential tack-ons to the discography of a once relevant band.
Thankfully, Road to Rouen, Supergrass’ first album since last year’s Supergrass Is Ten, will not kill their career. If anything, they’re more accomplished than ever — focused enough to keep the more sprawling tracks interesting for the duration of their running time, and their swagger at least partly intact (check Gaz Coombs’ pretty solid Bowie impersonation on the title track). Mostly, though, Road to Rouen is content within a more piano-driven, mid-tempo mode than previous Supergrass albums. It’s competent, certainly, but they’re too cautious to cut loose the way their 90s Britpop masterpieces did. This isn’t the end for Supergrass, but, with the decade and genre that birthed them fading in the rearview and a compilation already on the racks, the thought has clearly occurred to them.