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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 sneaks in a nice gem

Hadn't seen press leading up to Hey Venus, maybe because it is only availble via download now and not on CD until Jan 08. While it lacks some of the overt genre-shifting for which SFA was known in their earlier stuff, the palette is still plenty broad to include Bacharachian pop hooks, dense Beatle-esque harmonies, swirling orchestration, and tweaky electronics which SFA fans have come to adore (often all within one song.) And Gruff seemed to have reached for his electric more frequently than his acoustic on the first half of this one, adding a nice punch out of the gate to some great tunes. Along with Beck & Radiohead, I will always buy a new SFA album, simply out of the yearning to see what this great band is up to this time. I'm certainly not disappointed here.

Fuzzy Love

Not exactly the stormer the band hinted at, but sublime non-the-less. Short, but loaded. "Neo-Consumer" brings to mind their earliest singles ("Bad Behaviour" in particular). In fact, most of this album comes across as a hybrid of their first, Fuzzy Logic, and last, Love Kraft. "Run-Away" might be the best pop rock song of the year. Carbon Datin, sung by Cian, is lovely too.

SFA OK

Great album. SFA never disappoints. A little short, but still great. The CD release in January should have more tunes on it, I expect. Still, is this really a "clean" version? How do I get the "explicit" one?

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...
Full Bio

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