Phantom Power, the Super Furry Animals‘ sixth album, starts quite angelically, courtesy of Wendy & Bonnie Fowler, all wispy vocals and intriguing melody. It sets the scene for a stripped down musical contribution, acoustic guitars and lovely harmonies, hugely reminiscent of Crosby Stills Nash and Young. Nothing wrong in paying homage to the ’60s/’70s greats however, and this album does it in spades.
Liberty Belle offers a summery tune-scape, lush and pretty, full of whooping choral highs. Golden Retriever hits the spot of bittersweet, pulsing pop. It might speak of a gold digger, but it is said with humour in a joyous melody. The Piccolo Snare yells further ’60s influences which are calming and pretty.
This album is actually a themed around the DADDAD guitar tuning; one used highly by Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Joni Mitchell and Led Zeppelin, and the beauty of this tuning predominates throughout.
Venus And Serena, named after the tennis-playing Williams sisters, is chirpy and driving in its sway, but it lacks the intrigue of beauty present in many other tracks such as the gorgeous and still, Father Father # 2.
The guitar sound in Valet Parking revs up this road-trip track, and the constant “bah bah bahs” drive you along in a haze of happiness. The final track, Slow Life, is a strange end with its sub-rave sound morphing into progressive electronica. But then it hits the Kevin Ayers mark and you know you’ve returned to the theme. It is lilting and longing, but in a more complex and interesting way than its predecessors. Way to go.
This album is, in part, about the Gulf and war, but it is also about the chasms in human relationships, and Gruff Rhys‘s vocals, although not special in terms of tone, are wistful and moving upon repeated listens. This is social commentary played with summer sounds, and I’m sure, will blast out of radios and stereos throughout this glorious, sunny, seasonal oddity.