Perhaps after ten years it is time for Wales’ most important musical export since Tom Jones to break through in America. Super Furry Animals, led by singer Gruff Rhys, have a new neo-psychedelic gem out called Phantom Power, which doesn’t have a single as immediate and compelling as the techno-pop title track from 2001’s Rings Around the World, but it is a much more coherent and satisfying album.
In addition to the new release, SFA will begin touring the U.S. in September with Grandaddy (see Bill Sherman’s fine review of Grandaddy’s latest here) in an effort to take the news directly to the masses.
The new SFA Phantom Power (their 6th studio album) derives straight from the eclectic, psychedelic ’60s but never sounds dated. A puree of elements jump out as the blender goes round: Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, pedal steel dripping Brit-folk, neo-hippie nature references, Association/Tremeloes harmonies, breathy ambient Franco-pop, a blast of Blue Cheer on “Out of Control.” And while the rest of the album is organic and very human (with the occasional electronic filip), the final tune, “Slow Life,” takes us out on a cloud of lucious electro cotton candy – somehow it all falls together. Rhys’ super furry voice remains his own but ranges widely from latter-day Beck to Dave Wakeling, always relaxed but confident we need to hear what he has to say: dark references to war, destruction and radiation, beaming gold references to sunshine and hope.
Rhys discusses the musical and lyrical points and counterpoints here:
- “We seem to be living in such a heavy time. We’re just absorbing all the words thrown at us from the TV and regurgitating them back.
“I suppose its almost unavoidable that lyrics like that are coming out at this point when almost all our entertainment is based around war. Musically as a band we tend to regurgitate what we absorb from our record collections, and lyrically I suppose the same goes, the topics of conversations over the last couple of years have been based around violence more than usual. We’ve been put on high-paranoia alert by the media!”
…”There are a lot of songs on this record about broken relationships and war, and I think they go hand in hand. But always with a positive outlook to the future.”
For those so inclined, ther is also an online game available here:
- The Phantom needs your help. The Gatekeeper has stolen his Power and needs you to collect items to unlock the gate and restore his power. If you successfully complete the quest, you will be rewarded with access to fabulous Pete Fowler prizes.
SUPER FURRY ANIMALS-Grandaddy Tour Schedule
Sept 18 – San Francisco – Fillmore
Sept 19 – Los Angeles – Henry Fonda Theater
Sept 20 – San Diego – 4th & B
Sept 21 – Tempe – Marquee
Sept 23 – Dallas – Gypsy
Sept 24 – Houston – Numbers
Sept 26 – Austin – Stubbs
Sept 27 – New Orleans – House of Blues
Sept 29 – Atlanta – Roxy
Sept 30 – Louisville – Headliners
Oct 02 – Washington DC – 9:30 Club
Oct 03 – New York – Irving Plaza
Oct 04 – New York – Irving Plaza