Friday, February 20, 2015

The Supernaturals Are Back: My Review Of 360, Their Wonderful New Record

Remember these cats? Any fan of great pop music -- in the best sense of that word -- better answer that question with a resounding "Yes!"

Well, the 4 original members of Scotland's The Supernaturals are back with a fabulous new album. Called 360, it's out very soon and I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of it a bit early...and legally I should add in this era of illegal downloading.

So the inevitable has happened and The Supernaturals do sound more mature here, but trust me, that's a good thing. What? You wanted a bunch of middle-aged guys bopping along to "The Day Before Yesterday's Man" like a revival act? Really, don't let that mature tag scare you.

By mature I certainly do not want to denote joyless or dour, or something that's a radical departure from the earlier Supernaturals template. If you were a fan of stuff like "Glimpse of the Light" and "Motorcycle Parts" then you're going to be happy with the songs here on 360.

Quite simply, the tracks on 360 are already some of the best examples of songwriting 2015 is likely to have.

Now let's discuss some of the better songs on this excellent record in more detail.

Rollicking opener "My Sweet George" is an incredibly catchy gem that takes its inspiration from the Wilbury Beatle, if you couldn't figure that out from the title. Then there's the one-two-three punch of "Zombie", "Something To Believe In", and "All Rivers Flow" which all feature what I'd call down tempo rhythms. Each cut is like a big, friendly hug, especially "All Rivers Flow" which should please long-time fans of this band with its organic pop warmth. The song sounds like the best thing Neil Finn never got around to writing post-Crowded House. The production here on the album is uniformly good and these songs are naturally enveloping. If The Supernaturals are not older and wiser now they certainly sound like they are. And this string of cuts shows how that's a good thing for those musicians who care about creating great music, like the now-reunited 4 original members of The Supernaturals.

"Horse Song" is a natural single. The acoustic and electric guitars are chiming and the chorus is a big one.

"Guardian Angels" with its deliberate chord progression is, melodically at least, a direct descendant of "Glimpse of the Light" from It Doesn't Matter Anymore (1997), the band's debut.

"Control Me" and "Alone with My Thoughts" are anchored by the piano/keyboard bits in each and both are supremely tuneful with the harmonies and melodies strong in each, think "Smile" but...older and wiser.

And then we come to "Just Love" and man, oh man, what a song this one is!. I hope someone tracks down Paul McCartney and mails him a copy of this CD just so he can hear this song. And inside the CD cover should be a note that says:

"Dear Sir Paul, play track 10. Now don't you wish you still wrote songs like this?"

Yes, "Just Love" is that good. The heir to the sort of slow-but-hopeful melodic line from "Love Has Passed Away", the tune is hands down my favorite cut on the record and, quite possibly, now one of my favorite Supernaturals songs...ever.

Album closer and title song "360" is the kind of more natural version of what one-time Supernaturals tour-mate Robbie Williams tried to do on his "Morning Sun" single. If that one was Rob going all Oasis on us, at least in The Supernaturals' case they are closing the record on a mood similar to what the Gallaghers did with "Let There Be Love", one of the more underrated cuts in that band's canon.

Although I've skipped over loads of cuts in my summation of this record -- the bits in "Meteorite" that reminded me of Squeeze, the rockier riffs of "Hanging Around" -- I think I've still managed to highlight the best songs on this new collection.

Overall, 360 is both a showcase of the strengths of this band, a refreshing reminder of why The Supernaturals were missed in the first place, and an excellent collection of 15 sublime pop songs for old or new fans of these guys. But 360 also shows that the band members have spent their time away from us moving their craft in new directions. What we loved about this band in 1997 or 1998 is still here, albeit if more naturally produced now. 360 is the sort of pop that very few people are making these days. Lovingly assembled, the 15 cuts on this album here are all superb examples of how to write a proper song.

Welcome back lads!

360 will be out very soon. Find out more details on the band's new official Facebook page or on the official website for The Supernaturals: