CD Review of Dark Days/Light Years by Super Furry Animals
Super Furry Animals: Dark Days/Light Years
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Super Furry Animals:
Dark Days/Light Years

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

t’s hard not to like Super Furry Animals. After all, their wildly irreverent and inventive approach reflects a sort of hippie mindset, an anything-goes attitude which finds them thumbing their noses at conventional precepts and forsaking any set standard for traditional pop parameters. Like Syd Barrett and Marc Bolan before them, they’ve etched themselves into the pantheon of true rock eccentrics, maniacal musicians with an unbridled enthusiasm for dallying with the unexpected. Welsh by origin, they even sang in their native tongue on their first two EPs, not so much out of homage or obligation, but rather to keep their distance from other native sons in search of broader appeal. Of course it was only natural that they would eventually give in to commercial concessions, but even so, SFA’s sound has consistently jilted any attempt at finding a convenient niche. Theirs is a sound built on ‘60s sensibilities, where nothing is off limits and exploration is the name of the game.

That said, it’s surprising how alluring their music can be, particularly when such little heed is paid to traditional formulas and every song seems an excuse to exercise their whims with wild abandon. The band’s latest endeavor, Dark Days, Light Years, finds them reigniting their idiosyncrasies without hesitation, a welcome relief after pulling back the reins to a certain extent on their last effort, Hey Venus, two years ago. Song titles like "Crazy Naked Girls," "The Very Best of Neil Diamond" and "White Socks/Flip Flops" offer some indications that the Furries are back to their mischievous ways, but the more definitive proof lies in the tracks themselves – the unbounded explosiveness of the aforementioned "Crazy Naked Girls," the unabashed infectiousness of "Lliwiau Llachar," the sweeping sound of "Helium Hearts" and the utterly effusive "White Socks/Flip Flops." And while psychedelia infuses the atmospherics throughout, the record rocks convincingly, from the supple surge of "Cardiff in the Sun," with its percolating pulse and gleaming sha-la-las, to the joyfully exuberant "Where Do You Wanna Go," and its chorus of hey-hey-heys.

So too, the band further ups the ante by mixing funk with their frenzy, especially with "Moped Eyes," which combines a Bowie-esque croon with a Prince-like approach. The gleeful "Inaugural Trains" and the rollicking "Inconvenience" provide further evidence of the fact that the band haven’t lost their enthusiasm for acting out their ambitions. An album that revels in originality, Dark Days/Light Years is a consistently tuneful treasure.

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