With Rings Around The World they set out to draw a horse but ended up with a cow. They attempted the same with Phantom Power and succeeded – but it was still just a horse. What, then, have the Super Furry Animals drawn with their seventh LP, Love Kraft?
It takes all of 30 seconds of opening track Zoom! to realise that SFA are still every bit as special as they ever were: Chords descend slowly through a landscape wrought from the most delicate drawbar organ riffing, gently propelled by Gruff’s unmistakably ethereal drawl. At a sprawling seven minutes it’s the first lingering stroke on a musical canvas of unimaginable potential – and it feels like the boys have more zeal than ever to create a defining masterpiece.
Atomik Lust recalls the Lewsinky-driven exasperation of 2001′s Presidential Suite, its apocalyptic topic demanding the tale be depicted with orchestral rather than electronic means. Five minutes later, the second stroke is complete, and a sense of inevitability eminates – this is incredible stuff.
Though the diplomatic world may be falling apart at the seams, this is still the Super Furries, and proceedings are soon cloud-light thanks to the cowbell sing-along of The Horn and Ohio Heat’s America-style prog plodding, worthy of any Greyhound bus journey ever undertaken.
A great deal of the overt weirdness seen on early LPs is set aside in favour of coherent storytelling, and Gruff even sees it fit to relinquish vocal duties more often than not. With the possible exception of recent single Lazer Beam, those hankering the techno eccentricity of a Slow Life or Wherever I Lay My Phone may well be disappointed – but Love Kraft’s comparitively mellow nature is a more accurate reflection of today’s SFA.
Whereas efforts of old had a tendency to run out of steam, Love Kraft goes from strength to strength – the absence of any perplexing freak outs ensuring a tremendous consistency for the first time. There’s even time for Oi Frango’s vintage comic instrumental before the likes of Cloudberries and Back On A Roll (the spiritual successor to Phantom Power’s Valet Parking) guide us full circle.
The obligatory epic saga of Cabin Fever of adds shade (and even a signature) to the canvas, pairing reverberating piano and pluming harmonies with the most authentic Floydian sensibilities of any band today.
In the end we’re left with little doubt that Love Kraft is the greatest realisation of the Super Furry vision to date, smiting anxieties with genuinely beautiful ideas enacted mostly through strings rather than the synths of old. When it’s bad, it’s great; when it’s good, it’s compelling. They have tried to paint their Mona Lisa and by God they have done it.