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Dark Days/Light Years
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon April 23, 2009
Welsh group Super Furry Animals first caught my attention in 2001 with their brilliant hit single "Juxtaposed with you". Breezy and soulful, it sounded like nothing else on the album it came from ("Rings around the world"), but then again, most of what they do sounds different and striking. Their music has always been an acquired taste, and this CD, superb though it may be, is no different.

"Dark Days/Light Years", their ninth studio album is more of the same; swirling psychedelic aural pieces which are not too radio friendly and require lots of listening to get into. Case in point, the epic swirling trippy-sounding "Cardiff in the sun" (with endless "Sha la la"s), the cleverly titled "The very best of Neil Diamond" (a groovy piece with quivering guitar and sitar sounds, and muffled lyrics telling the tale of a post-apocalyptic world in which the lone sound is a stereo blaring Diamond's "Solitary Man"), the retro-groovy sung/whistled "Pric", "Inaugural trams" (which finds Franz Ferdinand guitarist Nick McCarthy rapping in German to a chugging Prog Rock backdrop), or the opening cut "Crazy naked girls" (with squiggly funky guitars) which sounds like "Purple Rain" circa Prince in parts. They sound so un-alike as to have been performed by different groups.

Other standouts include the groovy "Moped eyes", the sunny bouncy "Helium hearts", "White socks/Flip flops" (with a Keith Richards riff set to Motown-style beats), and the beach Boys-chanelling "Lliwiau Llachar".

This is a superb album, and it is great to see a group so far into their career still being creative and ground breaking. Brilliant!!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2009
If your preferred SFA releases are, 'Rings Around The World', 'Phantom Power' and 'Lovecraft' this review may be of some use.

SFA's last record, 'Hey Venus' deviated somewhat from their previous three releases. Gone was most of the stunning technical wizardry and wild imagination in favor of more conventional song structures. Not a bad thing in itself, 'Ohio Heat' from, 'Lovecraft' was pretty straight forward but one of my favorites from that album.

'Dark Days / Light Years' is similar to, 'Hey Venus' in that guitars are more to the fore on most of the songs but it also sees a return of some of what I came to love about the three releases I referred to above.

I'm grateful to the band for streaming all the songs from, 'DD / LY' in their entirety on their Myspace page. After my disappointment with, 'Hey Venus' this gave a now cautious fan a chance to assess whether it was worth buying the CD or just downloading selected tracks.

In the end I downloaded four tracks - 'Moped Eyes', 'Helium Hearts', 'Pric' and the excellent, 'The Very Best Of Neil Diamond'.

The first track, 'Crazy Naked Girls' starts off promisingly and is quite addictive but then it changes course and heads off into prog-rock territory. 'Inaugural Trams' is also a great track but suffers due to a constant guitar drone running for the entire song that I found impossible to enjoy or ignore. 'Cardiff In The Sun' would have been better had it ended at five and a half minutes instead of going for more than eight minutes. As for the rest - many good ideas spoiled by repetition or unwelcome (at least to this listener's ears) guitar detours.

The last track, 'Pric' extends to the ten minute mark but essentially ends at six minutes with the last four minutes consisting of atmospheric, electronic noodling - pleasant but not as essential or radical as say the end of, 'No Sympathy' from, 'Rings Around The World'. As I love the first six minutes, I edited the WAV file down to 6.02 minutes using the freeware program, Audacity.

So, another mixed bag from SFA but something for fans of all their different styles. Maybe the next release will inch back a little further towards the heady (or is that head?) days of, 'Phantom Power'.

Pitchfork TV ( [...] ) currently have a great forty eight minute film on their site of SFA in the studio performing and talking about some of 'DD / LY'. Gruff looks like he's constipated most of the time but he and the rest of the band sure are interesting guys.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2009
Well, another insanely interesting and sonically rewarding release from one of the world's finest bands, The Super Furry Animals. This release moves into a more drum, bass and guitar heavy dynamic, and it's the closest the band comes to laying down some crunching funk (albeit mixed with a heavy dose of psych freakouts). It moves from dreamy psychedelia, to crunching guitars, to gorgeous 60's Beach Boys pop, to krautrock. It's simply more brilliance from a band that is untainted by it's peers in the music business, and one that purely strives for sonic nirvana and creativity.

Folks - get to the know the Super Furry Animals. They are the best.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I was unfamiliar with Super Furry Animals until I heard one of their songs covered by The Wildhearts last year. The song was called "Ice Hockey Hair" and appeared on Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before - an album of covers, most of which were true to the originals. Eager to hear more, I often imagined Super Furry Animals to be a spacey, psychedelic-ish power pop band - maybe similar to an experimental Fountains of Wayne cut or Red Planet's "Starforce" off their Revolution 33 album.

It may be hard to judge a band from their ninth studio album without hearing one through eight. So maybe this review isn't really for casual fans to read, rather those like me who have heard the name but never the sound. Although Dark Days Light Years contains elements of pop, psychedelia, and celestial overtones, Super Furry Animals do not sound at all like the spacey, psychedelic-ish power band that I dreamt of. The neo-psych qualities are equal to some of the more modern, festival-occupying jam bands in existence today. Although only one member is assigned to man the synths and keys (Cian Ciaran, opposite two guitarists - Gruff Rhys and Huw Bunford), the majority of Dark Days is electronic-driven over raw drums, with the stringed instruments often used as only embellishments.

I had come to the conclusion many years ago that, since contemporary electronic music can be traced all the way back to the early 70s with Germany's Kraftwerk as a focal point, we are now in a era in which an artist, without precaution, can sound "outdated" without the privilege of sounding "retro". SFA may actually be the first casualty of my misfortunate revelation. When listening to Dark Days I sense the latest technology in sound emulation and in-studio manipulation being employed. But I can't quite put my finger on if something is either being stifled or horrendously overdone (like possibly the consistent sound effects on the vocals...dude, take a break from it already). It reminds me, although admittedly a far reach, like the Power Rangers episodes on Saturday Morning in which the special effects on TV are sophisticatedly constructed, yet watered down by some limited budget that a only Saturday morning tween television shows can be burdened by.

It's difficult to appreciate the pop sensibilities when the vocal melodies sound constructed by templates. I realize that pop music is all about stimulating the limbic with a hook that the brain finds both pleasant and comfortably, yet sub-consciously, familiar. But then there is pop overkill - music that makes you feel taken advantage of...like that new romantic interest who knows your every move and weakness, thus triggering skepticism. Super Furry Animals sound like a band that is hard to trust and, in turn, one that sounds as if 5000 miles is not the only thing keeping you from being in on the joke (if there is one).

If I had to choose one song to be transferred to a mix - one that survives while I leave the rest behind, it would be "Helium Hearts", a novel love story with an introduction that is only missing the fitting summertime afternoon jock introduction for which commercial radio hasn't used since around 1986. An honorable mention is "Where Do You Wanna Go?" which hits the same poptopia target as "Helium" yet held back by the aforementioned template use in the song's outgoing bridge (which by the way, connects with "Lliwiau Llachar", a non-English version of the previous track). From there, if you take away the two 8 plus minute space jams, while deleting a few of the tracks with those irritating special effected vocal tracks, you just may have yourself a somewhat decent power pop EP.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2009
Wow this album is fairly disappointing considering I think SFA is one of the best band ever. This album is full of songs that don't really go anywhere and are repetitive. Crazy Naked Girls starts off promising then turns into a decent riff that doesn't really change much for the rest of the song. It pretty much sets the tone of the whole album. Mountain sounds cool but doesn't really amount to much. Moped Eyes kinda sounds like a Talking Heads diddy but it doesn't have much punch. Inaugural Trams is awsome for the first two minutes then it just keeps on repeating for three more minutes. Inconvenience sounds like a bad version of Golden Retriever off Phantom Power. Cardiff in the Sun is wonderous until the last two and a half minutes where again the song doesn't go to that next level of creamy goodness that SFA is great at usually. I don't know what to make of Helium Hearts. Its just so weird I seriously became grumpy after hearing it. White Socks is a boring song. Where Do You Want To Go goes into Liliau Llachar which I treat as one song given that they sound the same but thats a good thing. They have that classic furry vibe. Prick is decent but sounded like a little more could've been done with it in less time. The Very Best Of Neil Diamond is defenitely the highlight of the album. It has that hint of humor and an infectious groove. It seems like they want to simplify their sound as they get older which is what usually happens I guess. Their last 5 or 6 albums are alot better than this outing. In fact this may be my least favorite SFA album I guess because I expect more from them. I still love em though.
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on June 29, 2009
This is a great CD and the more you listen to it the better it gets. SFA are known for covering a wide spectrum of genres and DD/LY is no exception. Inaugral trams is a great spoof of European techno rock. Mt. rips off "We will rock you" and there's a beautiful nod to the Doors' Riders on the Storm in Moped Eyes. Cardiff in the Sun builds to a great operatic end (despite what one of the other reviewers here says), although I agree the end of the CD could have done without 3 minutes of synthesizer noodling. I expect Pric will be their new closing song for the the live shows as they leave the stage while the synthesizer fumbles around a bit. These guys deserve much better exposure as they are terrific musicians. A thoroughly enjoyable album.
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on September 17, 2009
Dark Days/Light Years being Super Furry Animals 9th studio album and their 2009 release is a psychadelic rock gem and was met with great reviews by Allmusic, Gigwise and Uncut whom all gave the album 4/5. I agree with this and I also give it this grade. This is a very experimental album and is not exactly easy listening but if one is ready for a very different sound then this album is intensly rewarding on many levels. 4/5.
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on August 26, 2014
To me Hey Venus was a disappointment. It sounded lazy and very run of the mill SFA, like they were just treading water. This one is a fantastically insane recording, and insanity is what these guys do best. Not a neophyte's best entry point (that would be either Radiator, or Rings Around The World), but if you're already a fan you should appreciate the creativity in this one.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
If you've read my review of 'Hey Venus' you understand how let down I was with their previous release so its almost no surprise that I think 'Dark Days' is an improvement. Sadly, this album still doesn't hearken back to their Light Years of 'Rings', 'Phantom', & 'Love Kraft'.

Upon first listen, the song 'Naked Crazy Girls' stuck out and had me thinking that the Furry had regressed even further into the realm of the obscure, uninspired, and frankly annoying. Yet as I reluctantly gave the album a few listens I finally at least found myself in a position of mild enjoyment. 'Moped Eyes' is probably their most playful and catchy tune of the bunch and the album does improve towards the later half.

'Where Do You Wanna Go?' into 'Lliwiau Llachar' is the highlight of the album for me and if you listen hard enough, you hear some of the sound that got me into this band in the first place but as the album finishes it still makes me want to listen to their older stuff in order to remind me of the good ole days.

This will definitely get a better review than I gave their previous effort, 'Hey Venus', but simply will not be able to match the sound that has made Super Furry famous. I speculate that this album will not create a new generation of Furry Fans quite like their older creativity which demanded the attention and imagination of listeners back at the turn of the century.

Better, but still disappointed.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2009
Dark Days/Light Years is a definite improvement over SFA's last album, but it still falls short of the classic SFA albums (and even Lovecraft). The songs' styles and quality are all over the place. Crazy Naked Girls is a lot of fun, with some crunchy classic guitars, though it does go on a bit. Moped Eyes has a great Beck/Bowie white boy funk groove. The Very Best of Neil Diamond is classic SFA. Pric steals from Neu! very effectively. Those four songs are better than anything on Hey Venus! Helium Hearts and Inaugural Trams are also good. Not perfect, but still something to be happy about.
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