While it’s true Wales’ experipop group Super Furry Animals came along around the same time as the britpop scene (funny how barely anyone named as part of that scene has since admitted to ever being part of it), the group always had a certain eccentricity and individualism about it, at least when compared to much of the rest of the British indie class at the time— certainly the Adidas wearing, union flag promoting guitar groups. As if SFA would ever be caught going down that road?
There was also– crucially, one suspects– a Celtic narrative and spirit running through SFA’s music. (they even made no bones when releasing a loose hanging, proper decent LP sang completely in Welsh in 2000 entitled ‘Mwng’; a sometimes jazzy, sometimes moody affair worth checking out. The group would start to run out of ideas at around this point).
To these ears– especially on those early two or three LPs (SFA would become progressively vexatious and stale thereafter)– there was always something organic and ingenious going on. You sort of admired the ideas behind the music as much as the end result itself. Second album ‘Radiator’ is possibly the one that found them on a creative high.
(This writer saw them live around the time of the also recommended follow-up ‘Guerilla’ at the end of the decade, a gig where, though they looked a touch tired– or maybe just stoned?–, they played a tight set, cheerled on by one hack down the front who looked like he wanted to be their very own Bez).
There was plenty of daytime radio opportunity here for Play It Cool’s spinning harlequin space-jam, and even the glam-techno beatnik shindig of Hermann Loves Pauline. A track like Demons, and Bass Turned To D.E.A.D. on the other hand are more art rock loungers, taking on board ukulele, free jazz and abstract synth noises. It all comes across like the missing link between Radiohead and Sparks.
Still, a bit of an odd group, all said; one that could frustrate and please, one that could appear both puerile and highly intelligent. Maybe this was their attraction between those years 1995 and 2000 when they were at their finest.