Super Furry Animals – Dark Days/Light Years

sfadarkdays 150x150 Super Furry Animals   Dark Days/Light YearsWe’re at a party! The host’s greeting the guests and the band’s warming up – we know because we can hear a guitar doing its pre-show stretches. Wait, isn’t the host in the band? Eh, who cares – they’ve started the gig.
 
The first track on Dark Days/Light Years kicks off with a strained almost-falsetto (think Prince) vocal. The crowd enthusiastically eggs the band on – who wouldn’t be excited at the thought of ‘Crazy naked girls’? It’s not a song you can hum along to it but you have to love it. The chorus rises, rises, rises and culminates in an ecstatic, frenzied squeal. This is a great opener. It’s followed by ‘Mt.’ which I expected to be a short song with a rapid conclusion that would explain the abbreviated title. But it’s really about a determined bloke who decided to scale a peak for no reason other than its unusual appearance and the fact that it was a ‘big fucking mountain’. It has a powerful, rigid beat but some mischievous strings manage to creep into the gaps.
 
The Furries pay homage to Kraftwerk with ‘Inaugural trams’ which is built over a techno-y tune with robotically distorted vocals. It’s right out of one of those awesome ‘futuristic’ 80s movies. The title may seem ambiguous at first but the song is apparently about a new tram line that is unveiled in an undisclosed location. The highlight is Franz Ferdinand’s Nick McCarthy appearing as a guest vocalist and reciting a few gibberish lines in German.
 
Then there’s ‘Cardiff in the sun’ – an 8 minute operatic, electronic almost-instrumental which convinces you that Cardiff must be a lovely place if it sends these people into such an apoplectic state of bliss. Meanwhile, ‘The very best of Neil Diamond’ starts with a slightly Middle Eastern vibe and bears absolutely no resemblance to anything the man ever recorded himself. Therefore, it is unlikely to be exploited as an advertising jingle for Mr. D’s greatest hits compilation. Then you have ‘Where do you wanna go?’ which is one of those songs you comically bop your head to when it plays on your mp3 player of choice. It feels completely natural until the people sharing your mode of public transport start to slowly back away.
 
‘Pric’ is a typical album closer in that it’s more an experimental, concept piece bearing little resemblance to the rest of the album while simultaneously managing to capture the essence of all its preceding tracks. It’s breezy, dreamy, grungy and noisy all at once. It incorporates sound effects from a 90s Nintendo video game as well as the trippy bit from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It takes its time and gradually, eerily draws to a close. A finale very, very unlike what you would expect from an album as effervescent as this one.
 
Dark Days/Light Years has the Super Furry Animals throwing little bits of 80s techno and 90s electronica into their own indie/Britpop sound. The guitar is sharp, the bass is heavy and the drums are loud and clean. The tracks are instantly catchy and incredibly likeable. It’ll either have you at the first listen or it won’t have you at all.

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