Friday, February 19, 2010

Underestimated in '09

I read somewhere a critic's opinion that you only need one Super Furry Animals album. I would have a hard time choosing just one. Their records may be uneven, but there have been many great songs scattered across them. One of the things I admire about SFA is their ability to perform songs in so many different genres of pop music from the past five decades. The last album, Hey Venus, was perhaps too consistent -- I like the Furries better when they throw in the kitchen sink, stylistically speaking.

The first song on 2009's Dark Days/Light Years starts as a Neptunes-style falsetto funk number, but it morphs into a mid-Seventies hard rock workout. It is followed by the glam rock of "Mountain" and the single "Inaugural Trams", a synth pop number that sounds like "Pop Goes the World" (with lyrics that poke fun at public transportation in Germany, of all things).

So when does SFA sound like SFA, rather than a band of musical mimics? Try "Cardiff in the Sun", a beautiful ode to the band's hometown. "Lliwiau Llachar" is a glorious addition to their Welsh language pop songs, and "The Very Best of Neil Diamond" is one of the finest songs of Gruff Rhys' career. The album ends with "Pric", ten minutes of motorik which proves (again) that SFA is capable of mastering any musical genre.



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