2001, Music

Rings Around the World (2001) by Super Furry Animals

One of these bands that I’ve heard the name of many times but never really heard. Or maybe it’s just that the name sticks in your head. Either way, I’ve heard of them without ever hearing them, until now.

Given when they debuted and, particularly, where they’re from, this may seem silly to say but: I kind of feel like this is the place Britpop should have gone. Or, at least one of the places. This band has much of the bombast and at least some of the nostalgia of many of the major Britpop bands but is both way more musically interesting and clearly at least a little bit silly. Both of these things are sadly needed in the genre. Classifying these guys are Britpop feels a little harsh, but there are at least some musical similarities in the broadest sense. Anyway…

The songs are quite catchy which is necessary for such a bombastic, somewhat ridiculous record. If the songs weren’t so memorable I’m not sure how much of their genre-mashing and audacity would stick with me, because at least some of it really isn’t my cup of tea.

The lyrics could be a problem, as they often do not fit the music at all. But I’m not sure how serious Rhys is, which makes a big difference. Given that I can’t really tell, it’s much easier to accept that. I find serious lyrics that don’t fit the music much harder to take that lyrics that probably aren’t serious.

The band jumps all over the place, including going into this weird retro futurist soul thing with a vocoder that almost sounds like it could have anticipated the autotune boom. It’s definitely less musically interesting than I think they think it is, and I’ve heard plenty of music that sounds vaguely like some of this. (In some ways these guys are like a far more tuneful, less weird early Mercury Rev filtered through Britpop.) But they perform everything so well and their willingness to do anything is so audacious eventually I just gave in.

I can’t say that I’m going to come running back to this record, or make it a massive priority to check out their other albums. But there’s something to a band that thinks they can do anything and mostly does. And one that manages to do it with both so much confidence as well as at least some possibility that they aren’t entirely as serious or pompous as they sound.


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