Phantom Power

Aug 6, 2003 at 12:00 am

Quirky-trippy Technicolor popsters Super Furry Animals will never be accused of doing anything half-assed. This is a band, recall, who once recorded an entire album (2000’s Mwing) in their native Welsh language; who once purchased an army tank in order to redecorate the weaponry in the decidedly non-militaristic lavender; and who pressed Paul McCartney into service, on 2001’s Rings Around The World, as a session player — not for some trademark Beatlesque vocal harmonies, mind you, but to munch carrots and celery in time with the music.

Nothing remotely h-a’d about the music, either. Given that past efforts have found the Furries indulging in sleek Beach Boys and Bacharach homages, one is tempted to invoke images of other “B”s this time out — Bowie and Bolan — and call Phantom Power the band’s “glam album.” And certainly tracks like glossed-up thumper “Golden Retriever” (think T. Rex’s “20th Century Boy” meets Bowie’s “Jean Genie”) and the irresistibly Mott The Hoople-ish anthem “Out Of Control” won’t dispel the impression that someone in the band secretly harbors a glitter-and-stack-heels fetish. But per SFA tradition, there’s more per capita stylistic zig-zaggery on this album than a barrel full of Flaming Lips boxed sets. PF is abundant with atmospheric folk-rock, country-tinged dream-pop, technoish psychedelia and Brian Wilsonesque orchestral interludes.

E-mail Fred Mills at [email protected].