'Diamond Hoo Ha', Supergrass' sixth studio album, hasn't exactly been an easy album for me to love. The first time I listened to it, I wasn't impressed with it at all and found it to be the least charming and least accessible piece of work in Supergrass' career. Now, while that may still be the case, I have now, over time, appreciated this album as a stand-alone effort rather than as a record to slot comfortably in Supergrass' overall portfolio. It quite honestly works best if you can forget that 'Diamond Hoo Ha' is by Gaz, Mick and Danny. On the first couple of listens, this hits you hard and comes across as a big, loud, brash rock album, full of heavy, edgy riffs and seems to feature much less of the quirky, melodic charm which usually characterises a Supergrass release than normal. The opening (and title) track, for example, has more in common with 'Seven Nation Army' by The White Stripes than with anything from their first five albums. However, time and repeated listens reveals the appeal of 'Diamond Hoo Ha' as well as much of its subtleties and beauty.
Although many of their recent releases have been fairly mellow affairs, it isn't unheard of for the Oxford quartet to make heavy albums - it just hasn't happened for a while, that's all. There are, naturally, glimpses of the Supergrass of old - 'Rebel In You' features an instrumental break which is vintage 'grass, 'Return Of Inspiration' would have fit right in on the eponymous third album and 'Whisky & Green Tea' could easily have been written during the same era of 'Lenny' and 'Mansize Rooster'. A couple of pieces of brilliance and the undoubted highlights of this album for me are the dark 'When I Needed You', which is both powerful and beautiful at the same time and the magnificent last track 'Butterfly' which has all the hallmarks of a Supergrass classic. These tracks are worth the price of the album alone, but there is enough of this album to please and surprise old and new fans alike. Just don't expect to love it straight away. It's a grower.