Wednesday, November 17, 1999

Tension released

Posted By on Wed, Nov 17, 1999 at 12:00 AM

Super Furry Animals – the Welsh quintet – are quite the characters for those of us outside the UK but trainspotting that scene anyway. They’ve officially sponsored the Cardiff City Football Club, refused to play for the royal family and had a minor UK hit single with "The Man Don’t Give a Fuck," a song based on a Steely Dan sample and 50+ utterances of the dreaded f-word. And that’s just for starters.

To boot, the SFAs are on their third American release this year, now that Flydaddy has got them on loan from Britain’s famed Creation records.

But the real icing on the cake is that their third English-speaking full-length, Guerrilla, is their best album to date. The album is in much the same spirit as such weirdo luminaries as the Elephant 6 collective or the latest incarnation of Blur - even if only in that they share a fondness for the same older records. Psychedelia, the British invaders, prog and orchestrated pop are all vital ingredients. But the Furrys don’t stop there – new wave, the Manchester scene and electronica are just as important to the SFA elixir. Yet somehow they keep their chemically altered tongues firmly planted in their cheeks.

Guerrilla is the playground of friendly aliens, angry gods and cell-phone zombies, the spot where the pyramid meets the eye. When the opening sitar sample and jungle beats of "Check It Out" segue seamlessly into the mods-with-Moogs "Do or Die," there’s the first inkling that the happy barbarians are hopped-up at the gates with stereos and signs to welcome the coming spacemen.

Carefree hooligans run wild on "Night Vision," then they burn their books and smash guitars on "The Teacher" to make Pete Townshend proud. Steel drums and calypso rhythms confound the fact that "Northern Lites" is a prayer that if the world has to end, make it quick and pretty.

That’s not to say that it’s all solipsism with a smile. Good Vibrations meets Goldie on "The Door to This House Remains Open," and the head of the cult of Brian Wilson, Sean O’Hagan (High Llamas et al.) helps celebrate on "The Turning Tide."

Guerrilla is the sound of classic and modern meeting for a laugh and a pint while exchanging conspiracy theories.

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