x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Super Furry Animals: Dark Days/Light Years

From this record's elaborate title, one might assume Super Furry Animals have embarked on a sprawling concept album for the credit-crunch era. But they haven't.

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From this record's elaborate title, one might assume Super Furry Animals have embarked on a sprawling concept album for the credit-crunch era. But they haven't. Reconvened after numerous side projects - including the Mercury-nominated Neon Neon, Acid Casuals and The Peth, fronted by the actor Rhys Ifans - this band has actually made its brightest and boldest record in years. Clocking in at just under 60 minutes, it may be long, but it's never boring. Dark Days/Light Years is said to have grown out of riffs and grooves that the band has been working with for several years, and it shows. Unlike their uncharacteristically concise last album, Hey Venus!, this has acres of breathing space. Cardiff in the Sun and The Very Best of Neil Diamond show the Welsh rockers taking their time and carving out some epic songs in the process. There are plenty of psychedelic pop tunes too. Inaugural Trams, which features a German rap from Franz Ferdinand's Nick McCarthy, is by far the most immediate track. Meanwhile, the optimistic Helium Hearts - in which Gruff Rhys sings, "it's cool to find what keeps us all together" - shows this band at its best. In fact, this latest release doesn't just break new ground, it also sounds like the most fun these boys have had since 2001's Rings Around the World. As an outfit with a reputation for regularly switching styles, they have also succeeded here by keeping their music rooted in a feeling that is comfortably familiar, but as ever, undeniably bonkers.