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Hey Venus!

Super Furry Animals

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Album Review

Sometime after Radiator, Super Furry Animals began exploring a wide sonic world, eventually drifting far out into orbit with albums like Rings Around the World and Phantom Power, albums so ambitious and so packed with celeb cameos that they brought the band attention from the respectable press. As accomplished as those albums were, they found SFA losing their divine gift of suggesting that anything could happen, the very thing that made their first four albums so divine. While they didn't get as overstuffed and lethargic as Mercury Rev or Flaming Lips did when they turned all serious — an impish sense of humor always pulsated underneath their music — Super Furry Animals did turn a bit ponderous, which made the relative levity of Love Kraft welcome even if the album was uneven, but that warm, hazy record in no way suggested the full-fledged return to pop power that is 2007's Hey Venus! By far the tightest record SFA has released since Radiator — boasting no song over five minutes and four clocking in under three — this is a concise, song-oriented record, which is somewhat ironic since it began its life as something as a concept album. The narrative was ditched during the recording as the group culled together 11 songs that hold together as an intensely colorful, insanely catchy pop album. Such a claim may suggest that this is the return of the frenzied rush of Fuzzy Logic, which isn't exactly true, because after a flurry of hooks at the outset — "Run-Away," "Show Your Hand," and even the cleverly tossed-off opener, "The Gateway Song," all hold their own with "God! Show Me Magic" and "Herman Loves Pauline" — the record settles into softer territory, trading on the lush Beach Boys, Bacharach, and ELO of their turn-of-the-century records. But if those albums were gauzy, as much about the texture as about the tune, here the focus is solely on the song, with each of the 11 tracks standing on its own yet working together to create an addictive 37-minute pop album. And just because this is disciplined in a way that Super Furry Animals haven't been in years doesn't mean they've ceased to progress — they've never had songs as lazily soulful as the closing "Let the Wolves Howl at the Moon" or "The Gift That Keeps Giving" with its electric sitars, and "Baby Ate My Eightball" threads their electronic fascinations into a lean rocker, the kinds of subtle innovations that prove that the Furries can still surprise as they enter their second decade. That reclaimed sense of unpredictability is as easy to embrace as the simple pop pleasures of Hey Venus! as a whole.

Customer Reviews

SFA - Timeless

There are lots of bands that you constantly see referenced in reviews. If there's some nice harmonies then you'll see The Beach Boys. If there's some nice melodies the Zomibies will be invoked. If there's a psychadelic, hippy bent then Love are your band. Now that some current bands have been going for 10 years or so you can see that they will eventually become such reference points. Belle and Sebastian, for example, will forever be name checked for any orchestral pop. Which brings me nicely to my point. After more than a decade in the business the Super Furry Animals will be namechecked to classify just about damn anything! The name of SFA in a review will mean that a band is utterly versatile and not only that but masters of everything they turn their hands to. By putting out such a superb pop album SFA have unleashed yet another part of their superb music imagination. Sure they've always done good pop, but it's generally found itself floating around more experimental numbers, electronica or lush slower songs. This time they've stuck it all into one album and like many of the best pop albums it's short and sweet. Do yourself a favour and buy this album, you'll be loving this side of SFA just as much as you should have loved everything else they've ever done.

Pure Class

Another great album from this often overlooked band. Their last album was not a classic and they lost their record contract because of the poor sales but this is a great return for their new label Rough Trade. With a bit of luck their new label will push this album as it deserves it. Theres not one bad track on the album and if you have not seen SFA live you have missed a great live act so go and see them touring this album as no doubt these tracks will be good live. This will be one of the albums of the year so do yourself a favour and treat yourself.

SFA still OK after all these years!

Eight albums in, and the Super Furry Animals once again fail to disappoint with the amazing "Hey Venus!". After their stunning yet slowburning last record "Love Kraft", this is a welcome return to the more poppier and upbeat side of the band, but manages to retain the maturity and expressiveness of recent works as well. Highlights include first single 'Show Your Hand', 'The Gift that Keeps Giving', 'Run-Away', 'Carbon Dating', and - perhaps the most 'Radiator'-esque here - 'Neo-Consumer'. Overall, another excellent record from the Welsh wonders!

Biography

Formed: 1993 in Cardiff, South Glamorgan, Wales

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Super Furry Animals were one of the first post-alternative bands, fusing together a number of disparate musical genres — including power pop, punk rock, techno, and progressive rock — creating a shimmering, melodic, irreverent, and willfully artsy rock & roll. As one of the leading bands of the mid-'90s Welsh movement, they were already tagged as outsiders by their tendency to sing entire songs in their native tongue, but their very approach was unique, full of both whimsy and left-wing...
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