Sunday, February 22, 2009

Discourse 2000 #4

NOMINATED BY: Thomas Ferguson, who among other things gave this feature its name and is curating a compilation of songs in response to Two Of The Beatles Have Died, participants in which so far include the Cuban Boys and MJ Hibbett.

In September of 2001, two days after the Manhattan skyline was afforded a very big and sad new negative space, I was stood awestruck in Southampton Guildhall as a man in a mask of John Lennon threw celery at people. It’s difficult to blame nostalgia for what I’m about to express, especially as this is about a band that are still functioning exceptionally well touring an album less than ten years ago, but there was something in particular about the Rings Around The World tour in surround sound that bristled with a kind of demented, extraordinary sorcery only Super Furry Animals are fully able to operate at will. Yes, the band at the time were occasionally a bit shambolic as they hadn’t fully formed the audio-visual live performance assault that was honed on the tours for Phantom Power and LoveKraft (they didn’t even reappear dressed as sasquatches after the twenty minute techno finale) but they were now deeper, sharper, bolder and – thanks to the stack of speakers parenthesising the venue – much, much louder.

Rings Around The World itself was, admittedly, difficult to love at first. Having been left in the fallout after the well-documented implosion of Creation Records, they released the charming and summery Mwng on their own Placid Casual label, making it the biggest selling Welsh language album of all time and getting the band mentioned in The House Of Commons. However, their album for new home Epic, which had the working title Text Messaging Is Killing The Pub Quiz As We Know It, was initially critically derided for all the reasons it later became so easy to adore.

SFA were still essentially, despite their brief rustic departure into the Valleys, still viewed by the press paying attention to them as those oddball sunshine Welsh lads with their pink techno tanks and inflatable pandas and songs about Sian Lloyd. While the album still explored the same sort of themes touched upon in Guerrilla, of global communication and the development of a new digital world, it seemed light years away from that album’s explosive bubblegum disposition. War, longing, religion, politics and loss all ran much darker lyrically throughout the album, meaning despite its eclecticism and eccentricities it still held together properly as an album of bleaker things, sometimes angry, sometimes sentimental, sometimes unbearably melancholic. That Gruff can sing a frank song about the holy grail of comedy writing at the time, the Clinton/Lewinsky affair, and make it sound utterly heartbreaking is perhaps testament to his skill as one of our most under-celebrated vocalists.

The album’s inability to stick to a specified style was also a feature derided at the time but, ultimately, has cemented it as an exemplary document of what makes the band so brilliant. Despite its diverse nature, the whole thing holds together in a remarkable, almost narrative way. No Sympathy melts from acerbic into a frenzied acid-breakcore riot. (Drawing) Rings Around The World sounds like Status Quo having a go at Fuzzy Logic. Receptacle For The Respectable transmogrifies from jangly harmony pop into headbangable death metal. Juxtaposed With U even sounded a bit like The Lighthouse Family. It was also, perhaps coincidentally, the first time that the band had started sounding like everybody had been describing them, as if Muse had somehow just done an actual rip-off of OK Computer. When Steve Lamacq played new tracks on air, he said “when I first saw the Super Furries live with Alan McGee, he turned to me and said, ‘Steve they sound like The Beach Boys’. Super Furry Animals have never sounded like The Beach Boys to me. And yet suddenly...”

With a simultaneous release on DVD in 5.1 surround sound with accompanying films for each song (including a Cuban cigar crisis and a list of things the Bible believes is punishable by death), Rings Around The World evidently sought to be a new 21st century listening experience of sorts. Yet it should be better remembered as the album that could first hold any sort of watertight claim as being the band’s flawed masterpiece. Plus, it’s just really good. Really, really good.

Presidential Suite (from the DVD)

(Drawing) Rings Around The World


23 Daves said...

It's not much of a comment, but I would like to say I completely agree with this review, and am frequently bemused by people who seem to regard this as an inferior SFA album. It's a wonderful piece of work, and the tour of the same period was also utterly fantastic.

if said...

I just about prefer Phantom Power (more moving, I like the slighter higher pastoral quotient and it has "Slow Life") but Rings Around the World was the one to get me into them and is indeed fantastic too.

Chris Brown said...

Funny thing is, I was going to post a comment explaining that this was the point where I stopped buying their records, because I'd been somewhat disappointed by Guerrilla and very much underwhelmed by everything I heard from this one.

And then on my way home from work today, I picked up a copy in the PDSA shop for a quid.

Anonymous said...

成人電影,情色,本土自拍, 美女交友, 嘟嘟成人網, 成人貼圖, 成人電影, A片, 豆豆聊天室, 聊天室, UT聊天室, 尋夢園聊天室, 男同志聊天室, UT男同志聊天室, 聊天室尋夢園, 080聊天室, 080苗栗人聊天室, 6K聊天室, 女同志聊天室, 小高聊天室, 情色論壇, 色情網站, 成人網站, 成人論壇, 免費A片, 上班族聊天室, 成人聊天室, 成人小說, 微風成人區, 色美媚部落格, 成人文章, 成人圖片區, 免費成人影片, 成人論壇, 情色聊天室, 寄情築園小遊戲, AV女優,成人電影,情色,本土自拍, A片下載, 日本A片, 麗的色遊戲, 色色網, ,嘟嘟情人色網, 色情網站, 成人網站, 正妹牆, 正妹百人斬, aio,伊莉, 伊莉討論區, 成人遊戲, 成人影城,
免費A片, AV女優, 美女視訊, 情色交友, 免費AV, 色情網站, 辣妹視訊, 美女交友, 色情影片 成人影片, 成人網站, A片,H漫, 18成人, 成人圖片, 成人漫畫, 情色網,
日本A片, 愛情公寓, 情色, 舊情人, 情色貼圖, 情色文學, 情色交友, 色情聊天室, 色情小說, 一葉情貼圖片區, 情色小說, 色情, 色情遊戲, 情色視訊, 情色電影, aio交友愛情館, 色情a片, 一夜情, 辣妹視訊, 視訊聊天室, 免費視訊聊天, 免費視訊, 視訊, 視訊美女, 美女視訊, 視訊交友, 視訊聊天, 免費視訊聊天室, 情人視訊網影音視訊聊天室, 視訊交友90739, 成人影片, 成人交友, 本土自拍, 免費A片下載, 性愛,
成人交友, 嘟嘟成人網, 成人電影, 成人, 成人貼圖, 成人小說, 成人文章, 成人圖片區, 免費成人影片, 成人遊戲, 微風成人, 愛情公寓, 情色, 情色貼圖, 情色文學, 做愛, 色情聊天室, 色情小說, 一葉情貼圖片區, 情色小說, 色情, 寄情築園小遊戲, 色情遊戲情色視訊, 情色電影, aio交友愛情館, 言情小說, 愛情小說, 色情A片, 情色論壇, 色情影片, 視訊聊天室, 免費視訊聊天, 免費視訊, 視訊美女, 視訊交友, 視訊聊天, 免費視訊聊天室, a片下載, aV, av片, A漫, av dvd, av成人網, 聊天室, 成人論壇, 本土自拍, 自拍, A片,成人電影,情色,本土自拍,