Super Furry Animals - Dark Days/Light Years
I can’t think of a band that has been more consistent in the last 13 years than the Super Furry Animals: from the acid-fuzz of debut Fuzzy Logic in ’96, to their last effort Hey Venus, they never seem to release anything in the way of a bad or disappointing album. Granted, the likes of Radiator, Guerrilla and Mwng have yet to be bettered, but consistency is the key word here, and it’s something that the Super Furry Animals have in abundance.
After a slight hiatus - in which Daf teamed up with Rhys Ifans to gestate The Peth, and Gruff and Cian busied themselves with side projects Acid Casuals and Neon Neon - they return with a new album, Dark Days/Light Years. This, their ninth album, according to the band, harks back to the early days of their career and the unbridled joy they felt in creating without the constraints of pressure. As much as this is clearly evident, the truth is, there is much more going on than that.
The epic ‘Crazy Naked Girls’ is a sprawling, psychedelic groove of a song, its acidic flair proving that all is still wonderfully strange in Super Furry land. ‘Mt’ is as expansive, sound wise, as it’s possible to get on Dark Days/Light Years. Strings sweep into a chorus that is framed by a stomping drum beat; minimal fuzz-guitar circles the rhythm section, weaving in and out of Gruff’s vocals. He sings, ‘I wasn’t looking for a mountain/Big was the mountain/It was a big fucking mountain/So I climbed the mountain’, it’s possible to almost imagine him doing just that.
‘Inaugural Trams’ is loaded to the brim with inventive synths and krautrock references. Featuring a German spoken word performance from Franz Ferdinand’s Nick McCarthy, it bristles with a vision and uniqueness that many artists attempt and a majority of them fail. The Super Furries are blessed with the kind of sonic wizardry that make tracks such as this appear so effortless and natural.
There are hints of an electronic Bowie influence in ‘Moped Eyes’, “I can see through your lies/’Cause you got Moped Eyes’ is quintessential Super Furries. No, it doesn’t make sense, and nor should it. To truly appreciate this world, leave rationality at the door and slip on suspension of disbelief, it’s the only way to travel in these lands. ‘Inconvenience’ could have been on Fuzzy Logic ten times over, and would have stood as a sibling to Hometown Unicorn. This is the moment on Dark Days/Light Years that the band truly revisits their roots, guitars are set to overdrive and the fuzz is turned up to 11.
The albums mellower moments are reserved for ‘Cardiff In The Sun’, a heart-warming tribute to the city that spawned them, and recent single ‘The Very Best Of Neil Diamond’. The latter, as well as boasting one of their best ever titles, dazzles with its minimal, but infectious chorus beaming straight from somewhere in the outer reaches of the galaxy.
So, yet again, the Super Furry Animals bless us with another solid addition to their back catalogue. It’s inventive, strange, exciting and sprinkled liberally with moments of true brilliance. Dark Days/Light Years is possibly their best album since Rings Around The World; it manages to encapsulate elements that they have experimented with throughout their career, amalgamating everything in one glorious slab. Often forgotten, never to be underestimated, the Super Furry Animals deserve to be praised as a British musical bedrock. The time will come when we can’t rely on them anymore, and that my friends, will be a very sad day indeed.