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Super Furry Animals
Dark Days/Light Years Julian Marszalek , March 11th, 2009 09:02

Such was the consistent and almost habitual brilliance of Super Furry Animals that it was almost too easy to take them for granted. And yet, given the lucklustre efforts that were the languid Love Kraft and uncharacteristically concise Hey! Venus, the impression was given that even Super Furry Animals had started taking themselves for granted.

That's not to suggest they were bad albums. By most standards of objectivity, both of these works towered over the pap that was regularly trotted out as the Next Big Thing. Yet it was abundantly clear that Super Furry Animals had failed to clear the bar that they themselves had set. Factor in a fairly pedestrian Saturday teatime set at the Other Stage at Glastonbury 2007 and the unthinkable was beginning to be considered: Super Furry Animals were looking bored and so, by extension, were we.

Time then to rejoice, for not only is Dark Days/Light Years easily their best work since Rings Around The World, it's also an album built to last. And make no mistake, in an age of à la carte downloads and moronically short attention spans, this is very much a collection designed to be listened to from start to finish.

Sequenced with the deftness of a DJ set, Dark Days/Light Years is a journey that sees Super Furry Animals acknowledging and then transcending their influences with a kaleidoscopic intensity and almost indecent ease. 'Crazy Naked Girls' sets out the band's stall early as spluttering beats give way to a series of monolithic riffs and relentless wah-wah guitar. But this is no retread of the 70s: contained within these grooves are the humour and moves with which they made their name. And surely any band given to naming a track 'The Very Best Of Neil Diamond' is worthy of investigation?

The country balladry that lay at the heart of Rings Around The World and Phantom Power is conspicuous by its absence, and in its place stand moments of glorious daftness. 'Inaugural Trans' sends the Krautrock idiom to the bierkeller for several pints of full-strength brewage; the absurdity at the heart of 'Mountain' is lyrically laugh-out-loud funny as it simultaneously blends the strings of early-doors ELO with the Glitter Band's yobbish terrace stomping.

'Cardiff In The Sun' is one of two of the album's full-on epics, whirlpools created by a hypnotic circular guitar motif. The other is 'Pric', a near relative of 'Rings Around The World' that takes a Blumenthal-like glee with its experimental nature: watertight bass line? Motorik beats? Backwards guitar? Techno bleeps? Hidden messages? That'll do nicely. (Actually, we're lying about the hidden messages but, on the other hand, you never know....)

Maybe it was the numerous solo projects, maybe it was the Mercury nomination: for whatever reason you care to name, Super Furry Animals have their mojo back. And that can only a very good thing, as much for them as it is for the rest of us.

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