There’s a cliché that gets rolled out incredulously by hardcore fans when talking about Super Furry Animals. It goes something like, “Why the hell aren’t they the biggest band in the world?” A band whose records leak psychedelic, sun-dappled melody from every groove; who manage to combine pure, heart-soaring pop music with questing experimentation; a band who have taken the stage dressed as yetis whilst playing twenty minute psychotic rave protest music. A band with something for everyone, always, and then a little to spare too.
News that after nine albums in fourteen years, the Super Furries have gone into a short period of hibernation should be the sort of fact that reduces certain people – people like me, really – to a lengthy period of moaning and moping in pidgin Welsh. That Taff self-flagellation has been postponed due to near-genius Furries frontman Gruff Rhys’ veritable purple patch – a Mercury nominated collaboration with hip hop producer Boom Bip (Neon Neon), a psychotropic road movie (Separado!) and a demented collection of songs recorded with a Brazilian VHS repair man called Tony all helped to satiate a desire of new SFA material. Now add to that list Gruff’s third solo record – Hotel Shampoo – out Monday and one of the best things to ever carry the good man’s name.
The record was originally rumoured to be a collection of yacht rock numbers. Gruff himself said that it was intended as an album of serious lounge piano ballads. Of course it’s anything but. If you’re versed at all in Furry world, you’ll know the drill – kaleidoscopic pop throbs through the tracks, seemingly opening a portal to some sunshine dimension located out at sea just past St Davids. It’s a place where Turkish psych meets Swedish girl group music (El Perro Del Mar’s Sarah Assbring guests on the tranquilized waltz of ‘Space Dust #2’), where Valley boy roll meets Bontempi rock. It’s a place where the sun bleaches the colours around you, where – unlike here, now – the weather’s on your side. It’s somewhere you’ll want to check into for a while.
So, no excuses – buy the record, make it a proper hit. You’ll give boring sods like me an excuse to cheer up and shut up for good.