Oxford's Supergrass have relaxed into a comfortable sort of middle age, the youthful rush of their early albums replaced by a muscular, if somewhat conservative breed of rock'n'roll. Diamond Hoo Ha, however, shows their early mischief hasn't entirely deserted them. The opening "Diamond Hoo Ha Man" surfs out on a distinctly White Stripes riff, Danny Goffey's drums beating out a distinctly Meg-like pulse; Gaz Coombes' lyrics, meanwhile, rock out with tongue firmly planted in cheek: "When the sun goes down, I just can't resist? bite me!" Supergrass' sixth album continues along such playful lines: "Bad Blood" melds swooning melodies and gloomy lyrics ("Milk and honey!/Won't heal my heartache") to lolloping, upbeat glam riffs, "Rough Knuckles" gets surprisingly funky with some great keyboard work from fourth member Rob Coombes, and the hilarious "Whiskey & Green Tea" is a gonzoid rock number peppered with horns and lyrics about "being chased by Chinese dragons". The heartfelt "Ghost of a Friend", meanwhile, is a Dylan-tinged number that mourns the loss of an old acquaintance to the "vultures, peacocks and hounds"--a veiled diss at celebrity culture?--and throws some grand shapes towards the close. --Louis Pattison
Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
After spending a dark, contemplative night on the Road to Rouen, Supergrass come crashing back to life with Diamond Hoo Ha, an album every bit as cheerfully gaudy and vulgar as its title. It all begins, as it should, with “Diamond Hoo Ha Man,” a wicked send-up of the White Stripes' gonzo thump that rivals “Blue Orchid” and “Icky Thump” in its outsized swagger, while providing the touchstone for the rest of the record, not so much in its sound but in its attitude. Not that Supergrass doesn't crank the guitars here, as they offer up the stomping Stooges shuffle of "Bad Blood" and spangly "Rebel In You" in quick succession, but after this furious opening triptych, the band widens their net and lightens their touch, reconnecting with their signature impish humor that was quite deliberately missing on much of Road to Rouen despite its punning title. At times they actually overplay their mischief, overloading "Whiskey and Green Tea" with too much stylized British whimsy so it threatens to topple over on the weight of its braying brass. This isn't the only time that the band doesn't seem to fully have their urges under control, as there are a few pop tunes toward the end of the record that don't quite click as their hooks aren't finely honed. This is how Diamond Hoo Ha differs from 2002's incandescent Life on Other Planets which offered song after song that effortlessly dazzled. Here, Supergrass seem to labor a little to achieve such high times…but only toward the end of the record, which is solid and well-crafted but lacking the glorious, giddy highs the band offers at the beginning. However, that first half - somewhat ironically ending after the jazzy soft-rock sheen of "Return of Inspiration" - holds its own with the best of Supergrass, filled with mammoth melodies and unbridled fun. It's more than enough to make Diamond Hoo Ha worth hearing, and it's just enough to illustrate the difference (and the merits) between inspiration and craft.