Taking in everything from buzzing synth tracks, Latin-inflected passages, stirring soundtrack orchestrations, heart-baring soulfulness and gospel harmonies, ‘Matador’ sees Coombes running the show with a sense of authoritative self-direction and little heed for presenting a uniform style.
Central to all of this is ‘The English Ruse’, a track that fuses motorik beats with simple fizzing one-note synth repetitions and a breakdown into a icy soundworld worthy of Goldfrapp. It casually outstrips almost everything Kasabian have ever tried to achieve.
On the aforementioned cut, Coombes’ voice has a strained, desperate quality. Elsewhere, on tracks like ‘Detroit’ and ‘Needle’s Eye’, we find plaintive, emotional epithets delivered by an anguished troubadour, all backed by a dense and clever array of styles of sounds.
‘Matador’ is an object lesson in letting Britpop mature gracefully, with Coombes operating a million miles away from the wry anthems that put Supergrass at the centre of a post-‘Parklife’ musical boom. The anthems are still here, rest assured; they’re less obvious, but definitely no less compelling.
Words: Mat Smith
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