August 1998
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Album Review
Super Furry Animals- Radiator

by Luke Wilson

Note: This album has been out for a while now, but it's SO GOOD, that Luke wanted you to know about it.

Radiator is the second full length album from Wales' five piece Super Furry Animals. Ever since their debut with Fuzzy Logic, they have won over a wide range of fans, thanks to their vast influences. 70's rock, psychadelia, techno, Britpop, 60's pop - it's all there. In fact, SFA's started life as a techno outfit, playing the anarchist network in Europe, appearing in festivals along with folk outfits, and dodgy Euro-hardcore. But whatever you do, ignore them at your peril. Dammit, they've been called the coolest band in Britain by the NME, and believe me, they absolutely blow your mind live (see for live pictures, as well as a couple of samples). Their music is fundamentally a mix - a wild, wild mix, with acoustic and electric guitar (both played by Gruff, often in the same song, and by Huw Bunford), bass (Guto Pryce), drums (Dafydd Ieuan), organs and funny-techno-noises (Cian Ciaran).

Fronted by charismatic (and often stoned) singer Gruff Rhys, SFA's have only relatively recently began singing in English - one track on this album is in their native Welsh, as were a number of their earlier singles, including their Llanfairpwllgwyngillgogerychwyrndrobwll- llantysiliogogogochynygofod (In Space) EP, which holds the world record for longest ever single title. Pointless but true. This Welsh singing has caused Gruff to unavoidably sing the English songs with a heavy accent - listen for how he says "bow and my arrow" on "Bass Turned to D.E.A.D."

The album is not short of slow, mellow, dare-I-say-it, chilled songs either. "Down a Different River," "Download" and "Demons" are three of the most laid back songs you'll have heard in a long time. Thrilling you with soft acoustic guitars, apparently random noises, and trumpets, they send you to a different world, before returning you softly.

Organs, as I've mentioned feature strongly, as do harmonies. "Herman Loves Pauline" is probably the best example of this - "la-la-la-la-la-laaaaa" behind Gruff's great vocal of "Too much Monte Christo no.4/pass the Ventolin I need some more" is excellent. In fact, "Hermann..." is probably one of the most weird tunes lyrically you'll find - all about Einstein's and Marie Curie's schooldays. I kid you not.

But where SFA's really come into their own is surely in their short bursts of power pop, in "International Language of Screaming," and in "Chupacabras." Fun, uplifting, insane, they make you smile and keep you coming back for more. At a mere 1 minute 26s, "Chupacabras" could be the shortest, most perfect pop song ever created. It means little (by all accounts, about a goat-eating bat), but sounds so good.

The closing track, "Mountain People," though, shows their magnificence. It builds and builds and builds, Gruff singing stronger and stronger, until the song breaks into a soft techno at the end, betraying their roots. Magic.

So, I urge you to at least listen to the album. By all accounts, SFA's are very small in the States, and they deserve to be much, much bigger. Remember, as Gruff has told you "We have ways of making you think". And they do the best line in t-shirts.

Purchase Super Furry Animals Albums and Singles On-line from CDNow

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