Love Kraft was excellent. Climactic. It was the sound of an accomplished and imaginative band reaching the gates of prog pop heaven and crashing through. How, then, do you follow the fulfilment of years of steadily-more-exciting promise?
Short of packing your bags and fading into the never, the answer is, of course, to change direction like a backstage yeti: for all of Love Kraft’s expansive forays into changing scenery, Hey Venus! is happy to be a half-hour saunter along the beach. A beach with purple sand. And a caramel sea.
And so the Super Furry Animals have assembled an 11-track effort and managed to refrain from techno freak-outs for (almost) the entire duration. Run Away, for instance, evokes the type of chord-strong, viral-chorus ballad Roy Orbison made his own.
Lead single, Show Your Hand, dwells in the same era, setting out sugar-sweet harmonies from the Brian Wilson School of Spine-Tingling Pop, while The Gift That Keeps Giving is splendidly self-referential, its layered falsetto remaining utterly alluring into its umpteenth spin.
Affairs then delve into Fuzzy Logic-esque foot stomping and guitar wrangling: Neo Consumer scats above Pulp-inspired derision before Into The Night wrestles funk from an axe, again consolidated with a refrain the coldest soul would struggle find hard to resist.
Despite the fact that 30-odd minute efforts are hard-pressed to lose the thread, SFA keep things strictly on track with the slightly psychedelic Baby Ate My Eightball, leaving it to the classical instrumentation of Carbon Dating to signal a beginning of the end, and its key-caressing, ’50s-style melancholy is nothing short of beautiful (Suckers comes close to doing the same).
The saunter draws to a close with the strikingly odd, Bunf-led Battersey Odyssey and sad, ponderous Let The Wolves Howl At The Moon, and all post-Love Kraft reservations are buried in front of the advancing tide (that being the irresistible urge to play it all over again).
Hey Venus!, then, is not the type of progressing heavyweight that has marked the output of later day Super Furries. As a shorter, lighter effort, though, it is every bit as tantalising, thickly coated in SFA-brand special sauce and still worth its weight in goal.