Like its forebears, Supergrass can seem skimpy on substance at first, but Life is far from being merely catchy fluff. The expertly rendered "Brecon Beacons" ambitiously unfolds a murder mystery over a ska beat, while the mix of bright chorus, brooding vocals, and languid acoustic guitars on "Evening of the Day" recalls Bowie songs like "Oh! You Pretty Things."
The band also resurrects its goofy reputation -- built via previous odes to sex, shepherd's pie, and getting thrown in the slammer -- on the whirling "Grace," where Coombes' sultry, irreverent moan offers lines like, "Well, we jumped all night on your trampoline/ When you kissed the sky, it made your sister scream/ You ate our chips and you drank our Coke/ Then you showed me Mars through your telescope."
With musical elements that mimic a long line of disco-era rockers, this album isn't fraught with out-of-this-world inspiration. But Life on Other Planets succeeds at wrangling that trademark flamboyant British energy into ripe melodies that are musically complex, instrumentally agile, and downright sassy.