SUPER FURRY ANIMALS

Album REVIEWED SUPER FURRY ANIMALS – Rings Around The World

Another year, another Super Furry Animals album. It’s undeniable that this band is prolific, consistently delivering new material since the mid-nineties. After last year’s Welsh language release, Mwng, the band returns to English for their latest album. Rings Around The World represents the fruitful outcome of their collaboration with Epic Records, and it’s evident that considerable resources have been invested. The lush production values and visually captivating DVD accompaniment for each track showcase the influence of a substantial budget. In fact, this album stands out as one of the pioneers with a dual release on both CD and DVD formats. The DVD edition boasts specially commissioned music videos for each track, along with numerous remixes and additional content. Presented in immersive 5.1 Surround Sound, it truly represents the future of audio-visual entertainment.

The opening track, “Alternative Route To Vulcan Street,” captivates listeners with its piano motif and sweeping orchestral arrangements that gradually build up to shimmering guitars, complemented by Gruff’s resonant vocals. The song shares a sonic resemblance to Mogwai, with whom Gruff recently collaborated. “Sidewalk Surfer Girl” begins with a gentle acoustic guitar passage before abruptly shifting the mood with shotgun blasts of distortion and techno beats. “(Drawing) Rings Around The World” combines the essence of The Beach Boys’ harmonies with glittery, stomping guitar attacks. Its infectious chorus practically demands to be sung from rooftops, and the inclusion of obscure Japanese film references adds to its cool factor.

“(At Least) It’s Not The End Of The World” borrows guitar elements straight from The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” skillfully blending in Peter Frampton’s wah-wah-drenched sound. The result is a powerful fusion of high-pitched vocal harmonies, catchy choruses, and undeniable potential for future single success. The band ventures into rock opera territory with “Receptacle For The Respectable.” What initially appears as a simple and jaunty indie-rock number quickly traverses diverse musical landscapes, reminiscent of a children’s TV theme show, complete with brass sections and multi-layered vocals. It culminates in a grand finale of dueling guitars and haunting vocals, evoking imagery akin to iconic songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Pinball Wizard.”

“Shoot Doris Day” stands out as the album’s most obvious hit single. Orchestral swells, soaring vocals, and a ’70s guitar vibe amalgamate, reminiscent of their previous hits like “Fire In My Heart” and “Demons.” “No Sympathy” showcases country guitar licks and ethereal abstract noise swells, crafting an impressive sonic experience. The chorus, laden with sugar-sweet harmonies proclaiming “you deserve to die,” is simply fantastic. The track concludes with a techno-infused frenzy that would make the Aphex Twin proud.

Another standout on the album is “Presidential Suite,” enveloping listeners with its gentle acoustic sections and sublime brass arrangements, reminiscent of a long-lost Burt Bacharach composition. The chorus gracefully washes over listeners like a gentle summer breeze, leaving behind a pervasive sense of joy. This album marks Super Furry Animals’ debut on a major label, and the instant discernment of the extra resources invested is apparent. The lush production style and overall polish elevate the songs on display. While some argue that it may have resulted in a slight loss of the charm found in their earlier releases, it undeniably portrays a band embracing their improved circumstances and creating their most ambitious record to date.

“Rings Around The World” showcases an impressive diversity of sounds, ranging from punk, techno and psychedelia to touches of reggae and soul. The album effortlessly blends genres, pushing the boundaries and skillfully incorporating various styles. Super Furry Animals once again proves their ability to captivate audiences with their dynamic sound and fearless exploration of musical landscapes.

In summary, “Rings Around The World” is a testament to the band’s ongoing creativity and evolution. While they may have shed some of the charm found in their earlier releases, the album represents a band maximizing their newfound opportunities and creating a captivating, ambitious record. From the lush production to the diverse range of sounds, Super Furry Animals continue to push the boundaries of their artistry. This album stands as yet another testament to their ability to blend styles and deliver music that resonates with their fans. It’s a remarkable addition to their discography and solidifies their position as a band that consistently challenges the status quo.

Super Furry Animals - Rings Around the World - full album

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Speaker Details
  • Genre

    Indie-Rock

  • Year Reviewed

    2021

  • Review by

    Mike Bond - UKmusicsearch

Speaker Details
  • Genre

    Indie-Rock

  • Year Reviewed

    2021

  • Review by

    Mike Bond - UKmusicsearch

About

In 1993, the Super Furry Animals, a Welsh band comprising five members - Gruff Rhys, Dafydd Ieuan, Cian Ciaran, Guto Price, and Huw Bunford - was formed. They signed with Welsh label Ankst in 1995 and released two EPs. Drawing influences from psychedelia, pop, punk, and techno, they crafted a unique sound that garnered positive reactions from critics. During this time, Creation Records took notice and promptly signed the band, resulting in the release of their biggest hit to date, the single "Hometown Unicorn." The debut album, "Fuzzy Logic," received critical acclaim and achieved chart success with the single "Something For The Weekend."

In 1997, the band released their second album, "Radiator," which was once again well-received critically, although it fell short of commercial expectations. They followed up with the "Ice Hockey Hair" EP in 1998, along with a collection of B-sides and early Welsh language releases titled "Out Spaced." Their next full-length album, "Guerrilla," was released in 1999 and produced a couple of hits including "Northern Lites" and "Fire In My Heart." This period also saw the band performing at notable events such as Glastonbury, headlining the Brighton Festival, and embarking on a tour of America.

Following the closure of Creation Records in 2000, the Super Furry Animals released the Welsh language album, "Mwng," on their own Placid Casual record label. Once again, the album received critical acclaim. In 2001, they signed with Epic Records and unveiled their album "Rings Around The World," which was released in both CD and DVD formats. The innovative release featured visual accompaniments for each song, extra tracks, and showcased the band's adventurous spirit. It further solidified their reputation as a forward-thinking and modern musical force. For more information on their subsequent activities, please refer to online sources.