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Super Furry Animals - Dark Days/Light Years CD (album) cover

DARK DAYS/LIGHT YEARS

Super Furry Animals

Prog Related


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4 stars

I was quite surprised to find out that Super Furry Animals are listed on Progarchives. I can see why they are here though, since they explore a wide range of styles in their music. But if any of their albums is at least remotely resembling Prog, Dark Days/Light Years has to be the one.

The regular cover art (shown on this website) is plainly ugly and doesn't suit the album's overall feeling. There's also another cover, used on the vinyl edition and Japanese version, which isn't pretty too but shows quite well what the album is like (sunny and messy). The CD comprises of twelve songs and every one of them requires some time to get into. Lyrics are hard to decipher sometimes and border at nonsensical, but that's fine with me. The biggest fault I find in this album is the track order. Sadly, the songs have seamless transitions and they can't be rearranged.

Starting things off is a track called Crazy Naked Girls which features quite nonsensical lyric, probably about a frustrated girl becoming a nudist. It gets a tad repetitive after a while but is quite listenable nonetheless. The same applies to tracks number 3 (Moped Eyes) and 5 (Inconvenience - the title really speaks for itself).

The second track and a proper single (download-only though), Mt., is an again-nonsensical stomp about an unusual... mountain (you guessed it!) with Eastern-flavoured strings (are they played backwards or it's just me?). This certainly is one of the album's highlights. Another single on here, this time promo-only, is the drastically different but no less pleasing Inaugural Trams. This is a synth-pop number sung from a town designer's point of view. It finds the SFA at their most joyous and festive. The German part spoken by Nick McCarthy of Franz Ferdinand is amusing too.

The first and, in fact, the only semi-epic is the dreamy Cardiff in the Sun. It's based on repetition but never gets boring. The shala-la-la's add a nice touch to it. It's similar to, say, Takk... era Sigur Rós or Cocteau Twins at their most commercial.

Next comes The Very Best of Neil Diamond, which has a weird Eastern touch and definitely isn't the strongest track here. Better are the next four tracks, to which I usually refer as a quadrilogy. It opens with Helium Hearts which is just a fun song coloured with violin. White Socks/Flip Flops is the best one of the four, featuring a great guitar hook and what seems to be a flute! There's nothing much to say about Where Do You Wanna Go? but it expands into Lliwiau Llachar , which is written in Welsh and is nothing less (but also nothing more) than a lighthearted pop tune.

So we've reached the album's closing piece - Pric. It's a solid, mostly instrumental track with sume bubbly synths and sleighbells towards the end. Now, don't let the last track's timing fool you: of the track's ten minutes, in the last four you'll hear nothing more than some "underwater" synths providing a nice way out for the album. The SFA had more interesting album endings than this though.

Overall, this is a very good album, even if the lyrics are pure nonsense and are packed (especially in the first half) with some vulgar words. The music can get too repetitive at times, but the better tracks outshine the flaws. My track-by-track ratings: Crazy Naked Girls (3.5/5), Mt. (5/5), Moped Eyes (3/5), Inaugural Trams (4.5/5), Inconvenience (3/5), Cardiff in the Sun (5/5), The Very Best of Neil Diamond (3.5/5), Helium Hearts (4/5), White Socks/Flip Flops (4.5/5), Where Do You Wanna Go? (2.5/5), Lliwiau Llachar (3/5), Pric (4.5/5). This gives an average score of 3,83 - therefore I round it up and award the album with 4 stars.

Report this review (#261478)
Posted Monday, January 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
TCat
COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Team
4 stars What do you get when you combine psychedelic/space rock, electronica, progressive rock and pop music altogether, throw in a few tricky rhythms, stray away from the usual verse/chorus formula, throw in some chaos once in a while, add an odd instrument or two, sing in Welsh and rap in German just to throw you off a bit, put in a wild guitar solo or two, shake in a bunch of amazing hooks and add a lot of non-obnoxious keyboards and add a dash (or spill it in sometimes) of humor? You get this album! In fact, you might get a few Super Furry Animals albums.

Some may wonder why this band is in the Prog Archives. It is listed under Prog Related because it is a brand of unconventional pop music, but there is so much more to it than pop music. This is, to me, an updated version of Sophisto-Prog, which was popularized in the late 70's, early 80s by a band by the name of Supertramp. But this is a much more updated sound AND you get a whole truck load of variety on top of that. Where Supertramp's sound was easily recognizable, SFA is not so recognizable because they give their treatment to so many kinds of music. You can really hear that in this album, which is probably one of their best. This album is full of surprises, but if I told you what they were, they wouldn't be surprises anymore. And that last epic track called "Pric" is simply amazing music that even propels you into avant garde territory before you even realize what is going on.

This is not music that you have to concentrate on and because of that, the album can play by track by track and before you know it, you've been tapping your foot and bouncing your head for over an hour and wondering where the time went. But you will have sounds echoing in your head and you will be thinking, "Wow, where did that sound come from and how could a pop group do something that cool?" You will question whether you really did hear that or if it is something that popped in your head from another album. This is good stuff and it very seldom gets boring. Pop and prog really can work together. Though the prog might be light, the band does not follow pop formulas though they may retain some of the sensibility of it all, but at the same time, the music just hangs on the edge of sanity.

Enjoyable music. I wish pop music would take lessons from this music more often. Excellent addition to your collection. 4 stars (with a fifth star that just kind of winks in and out a bit, kind of like that Christmas light with a short in it).

Report this review (#1322625)
Posted Wednesday, December 10, 2014 | Review Permalink

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