Matador is Gaz Coombes’ second solo album after first record Here Come the Bombs was released in 2012. That first album had clear elements of Coombes’ Britpop powerhouse band Supergrass with lots of playful energy, whereas Matador sounds like Coombes’ wants to discover his own sound as a solo artist and take a different direction.

Matador is a very subtle and melodic record in which Coombes has adapted his voice from the aggressive and in-your-face voice we know from Supergrass to a more subtle and warmer voice, which coupled with the folky acoustic guitars makes for very pleasant listening.  Opening track ‘Buffalo’ however, is not like this. It has a very cinematic feel to it almost as though it was penned for a sci-fi film. Nonetheless it sets the album up perfectly, making you want to listen on. The next track is ‘20/20’ which couldn’t be further away from Supergrass if Coombes tried. It begins with just his voice and a piano which slowly builds bringing with it minor chords played on an acoustic guitar which tug at your heartstrings.

It’s a very emotional album as well as pleasant which is proven on the track ‘The Girl Who Fell to Earth’ which is full of passion as Coombes’ soothing voice floats over a bed of melodic acoustic guitars and strings and the song does stop and relax you. ‘Detroit’ is the stand out track from Matador – it’s an extremely positive song and it encapsulates all the elements of the album thus far in that Coombes’ voice is relaxing and the instruments provide an added element of emotion. The track shows us where Coombes wants to go with his sound which is taking it as far away from his previous work as possible – maybe it signals a rebirth of a musician.

The album loses a bit of momentum when you pass the halfway point. ‘Oscillate’ is difficult to listen to as the overall rhythm of the song is very irregular and the style in songs doesn’t vary enough, as the album progresses it sounds like you have already heard the song. An example of this is ‘To The Wire’. Title track ‘Matador’ is only eighty five seconds long and although the lyrics to the song are very raw and emotive, it’s the lack of musical variety within the album as a whole that lets Matador down.

Tom Staniszewski


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