Super Furry Animals
Super Furry Animals are back on a roll though defiantly on pop strike for their mellow and languorous seventh album, LOVE KRAFT.
Long gone are the days when Super Furry Animals made instant three minute pop songs about hamsters or frisbees. Instead, they write lovingly-crafted songs of epic scope and scale, which take in subjects including space chariots, Lord Lucan, and a chicken getting hit by a meteorite while crossing the road. Which is no bad thing, of course.
Recorded in Catalonia in 2004 with Brazilian producer Mario Caldato Jr, Love Kraft is SFA’s seventh studio album. From a pool of over 40 demos, the band worked to create a coherent song collection from the shared writing duties, with all members bar bassist Guto Pryce contributing songs and lead vocals.
It’s initially odd hearing a Super Furries album on which Gruff Rhys only sings half the songs, but if anything it’s given the band a new dimension. Best of the bunch are Cian Cairan’s closing Cabin Fever, which summons the ghost of Dennis Wilson, and Daf’s songwriting debut Atomik Lust.
Sean O’Hagan’s twisting, staccato string arrangements that run throughout Love Kraft are a revelation, and the band have rarely bettered the wall of sound on Zoom!, the multi-part Cloudberries or the dry funk of Psyclone!.
Gruff Rhys’ lyrics, too, are better than ever, most notably on Frequency: “Win the burger franchise for the world/Win the ranch, get the girl,” he sings. “You say history will be your judge/But the jury’s whipped, gagged and drugged”.
Some fans may lament the omission of pop gems, or find the band’s edge blunted by overproduction, but it’s clear that SFA haven’t scaled back their ambition – not least with the addition of a massed overdubbed Cardiff choir on a handful of songs. Super Furry Animals have made their most mature, cohesive album so far, and are back on a roll with no signs of letting up.