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Rings Around The World (Expanded Edition)

4.4 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Super Furry Animals' leap to a major label in the U.K. with Rings Around the World isn't that drastic of a change -- Fuzzy Logic was also released on Epic in the U.S., Creation was subsidized by Sony, and they never were exactly wanting of money on their previous records -- but the band nevertheless seizes the opportunity to consolidate their strengths, providing an introduction for listeners that may not have been paying attention before. As such, it's hard not to consider it as a bit of a missed opportunity, since this is the first SFA album not to progress from its predecessor, or offer the shock of the new, and that's hard not to miss -- but, if this is the first SFA record you hear, it'll likely intrigue, even dazzle, with its kaleidoscopic blend of pop, prog, punk, psych, and electronica.

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The fifth album from Welsh pop prodigies Super Furry Animals is their most ambitious work to date. Featuring everything from status quo-style boogie-rockers to technofied drill and bass meltdowns, this is an immaculately conceived pop masterpiece that has more in common with the excitable genre-crushing of 1999's Guerrilla than with their previous album, the respectable but defiantly firework-less Welsh-language folk outing Mwng. One of the great joys here is that, though the lyrics are imbued with dippy fun, closer inspection reveals a satisfyingly off-kilter--and frequently inspirational--intelligence. The gorgeous "Presidential Suite"--which, incidentally, features John Cale tickling the ivories--marries the classic SFA psychedelic shimmer to a weary lyric concerning the Monica Lewinsky scandal that rocked the Clinton presidency. Frontman Gruff Rhys questions the event sadly, as if it's the most passé thing he can comprehend. Perhaps that's so: when you're playing with the sort of magic that's scattered liberally over Rings Around the World, even the salacious exploits of world leaders pale into tedium. --Louis Pattison

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Alternate Route To Vulcan Street
  2. Sidewalk Serfer Girl
  3. (Drawing) Rings Around The World
  4. It's Not The End Of The World?
  5. Receptacle For The Respectable
  6. (A) Touch Sensitive
  7. Miniature
  8. No Sympathy
  9. Juxtapozed With U
  10. Presidential Suite
  11. Run! Christian, Run!
  12. Fragile Happiness

Disc: 2

  1. Tradewinds
  2. The Roman Road
  3. Patience
  4. Happiness Is A Worn Pun
  5. Gypsy Space Muffin
  6. Edam Anchorman
  7. All The Shit U Do

Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 29, 2011)
  • Original Release Date: 2000
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: XL Recordings Ltd
  • Run Time: 53 minutes
  • ASIN: B000060MMJ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,276 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
You know, with this release and the last couple Gorky's Zygotic Mynci albums, I'm starting to suspect (nay, hope) that the best, and most influential, pop music right now is coming from strange Welsh bands with brilliant names. Not only is RINGS AROUND THE WORLD a teriffic album, it's arguably the best new album I've heard in a very long time (maybe since Sigur Ros). Everything about this album is great, from the production to the vocals to the pop culture references, to the songs themselves, it's all top-notch.
The most intriguing thing about this album is the way it combines so many different influences, from so many different genres, and makes it all sound both unique, and perfectly natural. Beyond the obvious Beatle/Beach Boys nods, I pick up references to Elvis Costello, Beck, Neil Young, Harry Nillson, the entire Stax catalogue, the list goes on and on. Basically, any semi-popular, semi-influential band in the last 30 years seemed to make an impression on this band, and they turn up here in various ways, sometimes within one song ("Receptacle For The Respectable," for instance, opens with a bouyant 1964-era Beatle romp, then slows things down to a nice mid-70's Elton John ballad, takes a brief excursion into "Cool Cool Water"-era Brian Wilson-- complete with Sir Paul McCartney munching on veggies-- before finally bringing it home with Chemical Brothers-esque sonic textures and a bit of Korn grumbling), and the effect is both staggering and really, really neato.
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Format: Audio CD
My favourite new albums are the ones that are both instantly pleasing to hear as well as being challenging at the same time, records that throw convention out the window, great pop music that's a bit off-kilter, with clever lyrics to boot. Super Furry Animals' new album Rings Around The World is the first new album of 2001 to completely blow me away, a soaring, aural mindfunk of a pop album.
Where should I begin? Every track is musically vastly different from the other and is punctuated by Gruff Rhys's oddball lyrics, the first five songs getting the album off to a flying start. The mellow piano ballad 'Alternate Route To Vulcan Street' kicks off the album with the enigmatic line "sometimes I ponder/what if the Caspian Sea/should merger/over my shoulder", 'Sidewalk Serfer Girl' lampoons the Beach Boys with a bit of a glam twist, the irresistable electropop of '(Drawing) Rings Around The World' perfectly mirrors the sound of ELO, and Rhys's impeccable singing on the plaintive ballad 'It's Not The End Of The World' sounds as good as the best work by Blur. The album's best moments, though, are in the amazing 'Receptacle For The Respectable' (talk about the song title of the year). It starts at a midtempo, acoustic guitar-driven pace with harmonies that sound lifted straight from Wings, then suddenly breaks down to half the speed in an Abbey Road-styled segue before slowing down even more, with a gentle, horn-driven melody that also features the sound of Paul McCartney eating celery and carrots, then builds up to the final section where, over faux-industrial keyboards, Rhys belts out the song's title in his best death metal impersonation. All this happens in less than four exhilerating minutes, making it one of the most stunning songs you'll hear in a long time.
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Format: Audio CD
I have to admit to coming to Super Furry Animals rather late in the game. I am unfamiliar with their earlier albums (though I plan on rectifying that very soon), so I didn't know what to expect except that the album had come highly recommended by my brother. There are so many very good things that I would like to say about this one. First and foremost, it is immensely enjoyable, and by that I mean that a large number of the cuts engender a sense of joy while listening. I hate metaphors that cut across genres, but you know the way that champagne fizzles in the mouth when you drink it? Well, that is almost how I feel when I hear these great songs. Second, although all the songs are great, each one manages to be great in a way that depends in no way on the other songs. For instance, the title cut sounds like the Beach Boys processed through alternative, punk, and power pop. It both sounds like the Beach Boys, and doesn't, but either way does not sound like any other song on the album. Similarly, the boys in the band see fit to raid at random the entire rock and roll songbook. In a couple of spots they actually use the same guitar/voice synthesizer that Peter Frampton popularized. They constantly sound completely original and yet very much like someone else. This willingness to create new syntheses from a huge range of musical influences is one thing that a host of the more creative current bands in rock have in common.

This is also one of those rare albums that completely justifies being issued on two CDs. This is not a function of insufficient discipline in editing: there simply is a lot of great music. From the very first song with the enticing title "Alternate Route to Vulcan Street" through a host of superb songs, this is just great stuff.
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