Phantom Power

Super Furry Animals

Beggars XI Recording, 2003

REVIEW BY: Adam Mico


The Super Furry Animals were a band that I previously overlooked. While perusing a review compilation site, I noticed a recently released and highly rated CD by the above-mentioned. With Phantom Power, they garnered an average score that exceeded the minimum standard of that site's highest possible rating. Considering that put them in rarified air, I definitely felt obligated to hear what compelled the collective praise.

Immediately after clicking out of that page, I researched various sites for THE word on Super Furry Animals. Prior to 1996's Fuzzy Logic, this Welsh band only performed in their native tongue. Gruff Rhys (lead vocals, guitar), Dafydd Ieuan (Drums, percussion, vocals), Cian Ciaran (keyboards, electronics), Guto Pryce (bass) and Huw Bunford (guitar, petal steel and vocals) are the Super Furry Animals. Indie pop, neo-psychedelia, Britpop and alternative pop/rock highlighted their affected genres and Super Furry Animals' attributed tones consisted of being gleeful, boisterous, playful, trippy and quirky.

Since these qualities perforated each punch hole in my mental checklist, I had a giddy immediate reaction. Light-headed from the anticipation of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Phantom Power, I hopped in the family Lear jet in order to immediately purchase the CD.

While cruising around the world to find a record store with a suitable landing strip, I could not keep my mind off the majestic qualities of the album title. Unfortunately, the hunt was turning out to be a lost cause, since the gas prices were killing me. Therefore, I took full advantage of my village's transit and hitched a bus to the nearest record store.

After finally finding the CD, I maniacally tore off the wrap and positioned it into my player. Luckily, management decided against holding me hostage because the case's bar code was still recognizable and the purchase was made. After listening for a couple of minutes, I was alarmed to find how remarkably similar Gruff's voice was to Blur's lead singer, Damon Albarn. Although Gruff's is slightly affected with a Welsh accent, they are nearly identical. In fact, the record played like a Blur record heavily influenced by the Flaming Lips. Nevertheless, even more sonic benefits evolved after repeated scrutiny.

Each track featured an obscure adventure. Pedal steel guitar was played to magnificent effect on "Hello Sunshine," "Sex, War and Robots" and "Bleed Forever." Those songs were also accentuated with a hazy sonic treatment that bled creative brilliance. The progressive Brit-pop/blues rock hybrid "Golden Retriever" caught me immediately with its inventive quality and evident catchiness. Other tracks that I would consider rapid favorites are the reverbed "Out of Control," a technologically updated early Elvis-Costello sound alike, "The Undefeated" and the pop confection of "Liberty Belle."

Although the awesome production of Mario Caldato Jr. and Super Furry Animal's cunning arrangements kept Phantom Power in heavy rotation on my play list, the lyrics tripped me. For example:

"I'm a minger You're a minger too So come on minger I want to ming with you" -- from "Hello Sunshine"

What reads like Welsh slang left me generally disinterested as to their (and its) intent. When slang was not used, the titles were soaked in symbolism, ranging from the obvious Syd Barrett-inspired to lines so symbolic that they would have made Nostradamus squeamish. Mico's dismay is short-lived because there are so many positive elements that the actual words slip into the periphery of its mise-en-scene (or overall applied setting).

Phantom Power boasts dynamic pop with the above-referenced lyrics preventing it from being a classic-worthy album. Leave your jet at home, but if you want to hear music that is inspired and titillating, enrich yourself with Phantom Power.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2003 Adam Mico and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Beggars XI Recording, and is used for informational purposes only.