Super Furry Animals: Dark Days/ Light Years

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You’d have to be pretty confident to start your new record with nearly a minute of people mucking about in the studio, wouldn’t you? Especially if that record was called ‘Crazy Naked Girls’ and it turned into a deep-fried acid blues jam. Or if the last track included what sounds like a hidden song… which turned out to be some very very quiet electronica. Mind you, I suppose on your ninth album you can afford to take a few chances. That’s one of the many reasons I love SFA – and since I saw this in the top ten in HMV this weekend I’m obviously not the only one.

More consistent than 2007’s Hey Venus, this is a fantastic record that shows off the band’s playful side while still coming up with songs you can whistle. It’s about time for volume II of their greatest hits – in any sane world they’d be as big as U2, but in this one they’re just a band with scads of great singles – and there are a few here that I’d nominate: ‘Helium Hearts’, ‘Where Do You Wanna Go?’ and ‘Lliwiau Llachar’ for three, plus the songs showcased below. If I had to gripe it would be that the band have decided not to do any country-rock heartbreakers for a while, which I personally find deeply distressing, but… any twelve-track album with ten great songs is well worth celebrating. And, in the spirit of last Saturday’s Record Store Day, this is well worth buying in some kind of physical format – the Furries have always had an eye for great designs and this one combines work from their long-time collaborator Pete Fowler – curator of Monster Island – and Keiichi Tanaami, who designed the amazing cover for Hey Venus. The image above barely captures what it looks like – and anyway, it opens back to front compared to every other CD in my collection. You can’t see that on iTunes or after scabbing it on rapidshare, younglings.

For tasters: the song they put up to launch the album, which is obviously what Kraftwerk would have produced if they’d been bouncier and had written about the opening of a tram service in a small German city rather than continent-spanning train networks. “We have reduced emissions by 75%”, they boast, and who can blame them? And then a song with an unpromising title, which turns out to sound exactly what it feels like to suffer sunstroke, particularly when you’ve been drinking at lunchtime. This is nothing short of sonic alchemy.

Inaugural Trams‘ – Super Furry Animals – Dark Days/Light Years

Cardiff In The Sun‘ – Super Furry Animals – Dark Days/Light Years

Buy from the band’s site – I did, digital and CD for £12 – or from any decent independent store. Sister Ray’s website is down, though it looks like the business is safe and they will have it up again eventually. Phew.

JKneale

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About jkneale

BothBarsOn's London correspondent.

Posted on April 27, 2009, in Album reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. “Sonic alchemy”? Reportage and respect! Will listen on my return.

  2. “Younglings”?. I’m considerably older than you and got mine via eMusic for next to nothing and I only buy CDs to rip files these days.

  3. Ah, but you do buy them, Andrew… good for you

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