Gaz Coombes: Turn the Car Around review – genial English rocker’s best album in 20 years

It’s 30 years since Gaz Coombes formed Supergrass, the teen rock band who sold millions of their debut album, 1995’s I Should Coco, and still draw big audiences for their reunion tours. So the genial Englishman has spent some two-thirds of his life being a rock star, and this fourth solo album proves he’s still pretty good at it. While Coombes isn’t keen on trying to recapture Supergrass’s sylvan magic in the streaming era – their final album, Release the Drones, remains unfinished and unreleased – he sounds as youthful and engaged as he did in those cassette tape days.

Much of the baroque experimentalism that powered Matador (2015) and World’s Strongest Man (2018) has been dialled down, but the band’s intoxicating, questing spirit throbs through the strongest suite of music Coombes has assembled in 20 years. Gorgeous, heartfelt pieces dedicated to his wife and kids (Don’t Say It’s Over, Not the Only Things) nestle up next to heartfelt, gorgeous songs about lizard metamorphosis and murdered middleweight boxing champions. The latter, Sonny the Strong, brings the sharp edge of sadness and regret that has often studded his songs fully to the fore, and is one of the best things he’s ever done.