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Funking Up The Formula

Super Furry Animals

After hearing this album by the Super Furry Animals, I'm surprised that they haven't taken over the rock world.

OK, scratch that. These guys are super interesting and if I've learned anything over the course of the past couple years, interesting bands are hardly ever the ones to take over the rock world or the charts. If you think back a couple years, you may recall that people were saying that electronica was going to be the big thing. A couple years later after only a couple big sellers in the genre (Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy), I still say that the only way that people are going to embrace the genre is through bands who use a combination of already engrained rock/pop values and a solid injection of electronics to round things out.

Which leads me back to why the Super Furry Animals still might very well be a big thing. Not only can they write a catchy-as-hell song, but their songs manage to mix the past and the future, the organic and inorganic, and everything else to great effect. While the album starts out with only about a minute and a half of looped guitars and upright bass on "Check It Out," the group doesn't take very long to get fired up with the sonics of "Do Or Die." The rolicking second track, while sounding like a fairly standard brit-rock tune, also has a thick backbone of a beat and little blips and bleeps placed at strategic places.

Perhaps feeling like they've tired out the listener, the group then goes into a slow, thoughtful number called "The Turning Tide" and the steel-drum and trumpet flavored "Northern Lites." It has just the right amount of cheese without choking the listener before they come right back with the fuzzed-out, feedback sprinkled rock of "Night Vision." The following four tracks, however, is when the group really takes off and roles. "Wherever I Lay My Phone (That's My Home)" is one of those electronic-infused tracks with a catchy beat and affected vocals that positively bounces along. After a minute long filler track, "Some Things Come From Nothing" slides out of the gates and reminds one of perhaps a quiet Aphex Twin track with soft live drumming and restrained vocals. It's a beautiful midpoint to the album and a perfect chill out moment.

The best thing about the disc is that it continues to keep up this pace. "The Door To This House Remains Open" is a strange (but again completely catchy) breakbeat-fueled number with pedal steel that sounds like it could have come from BJ Cole while "The Teacher" is another stomping track that feels like it could have written in the 50s, but updated for the new century. Overall, the disc is 14 tracks of very excellent, fresh sounding rock tracks from what could be one of the more inventive bands out there today. If you've lost your faith in British Rock, these Welsh fellows could help you get some back.

Rating: 8.75