I never really held out that much hope for Supergrass. To the untrained eye they appeared to spring from nowhere to unleash the chirpy (but not to the point of being irritating) “Alright”, a song that marked them out as a cut above the plethora of guitar bands that were being thrown against the wall to see what would stick. On the back of debut album, I Should Coco, they seemed to be a great little band, but they just fell short of the huge commercial and critical success that would have seen them be on equal terms with the era’s big hitters. Then came In It for the Money.
In It for the Money was in many ways the perfect response to being labelled ‘just another Britpop band’. Released as the sound of the genre’s bubble being burst was still resonating, it thrived at a time when other second albums were flopping and folk were just cottoning on to how identikit and disposable the majority of the acts were, it confirmed that, unlike so many of their contemporaries, Supergrass were in it for the long run and that they had enough drive and talent to survive while so many others were floundering.
Galloping over the audio horizon via well-judged fade-in, In It for the Money’s title track instantly quells any fears that Supergrass were going to join lesser acts in falling flat on their faces with their second album. This is the sound of a band announcing that they were only just starting to approach the top of their game, and as much as you might have liked their early work, they really were only going to get better. The trio of Gaz Coombes, Mick Quinn and Danny Goffey (almost always supplemented by Gaz’s brother Rob) were a close knit bunch, and were evidently not just a band thrown together to cash in on a passing musical tired, but had evolved and grown together, resulting in Supergrass sounding like a band, rather a group of musicians sat in a room and told to come up with something that sounded ab it like the hits that other bands were enjoying.
Unlike so many Britpop albums, In It for the Money hangs together as a coherent statement. Of the five singles from In It for the Money, only “Cheapskate” struggles to stick in the memory, and that’s not because it is a bad song, it’s just a case of it not being quite on the level as the other four singles. While many of the era’s acts could just about get away with debut albums that relied more on enthusiasm than talent, with their second albums, that just wasn’t going to cut it, so to make sure you didn’t crash and burn, you either had to widen your scope, like Suede or Blur, or just completely sidestep the issue by completely shattering any link to the movement, like Mansun or Super Furry Animals. Supergrass, to their enduring credit, simply got better, in that the Supergrass that recorded In It for the Money is still evidently the same band that recorded I Should Coco, it’s just they had grown and matured as writers, performers and people. There’s no over-thought update to what had worked so well before, just better songs, a better sound and greater confidence in their own decision making process. In It for the Money is simply Britpop done right, the sound of a band riding a wave of success, but still being self aware enough to make sure that they didn’t fall foul of their own hype.