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Super Furry Animals - Rings Around The World CD (album) cover


Super Furry Animals

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5 stars This is still probably the best Super Furry Animals album of thier whole discography, although they are all incredible in my eyes. This one has just as great songwriting as the others but with a bit more umph to make it their best work. It definetly has the best range of the bands influences, elements and shows off all the best sides of their music, taking in all the different styles they have made. This album does what "Radiator" first did for this band by pushing themselves to show off how much range a band can successfully make in sound. There is a less of an impact in that area here as "Raditor" was an epic step forward in songwriting. "Rings Around the World" takes that epic step forward and polishes it up to create their finest set of songs to date.

The albums inbetween "Radiator" and this one have been excellent in their own right, concentrating on their own styles and areas of sound, whilst this one brings together all the things that make up this band. Kicking off with "Alternate Route to Vulcan Street", this is a really original piece that still sounds like something completely new for them. It's a really downer, mellow piano droner and just sounds beautiful with its slow progression and simplicity. A truely stunning opener, that perhaps is odd to kick off such a lively album but it is one of my faves.

More intense psychadelia is polished up nicely for rock out tune "Sidewalk Serfer Girl", which already sounds like the band have matured and gained the ability to write even better tunes than on their heavily psychadelic debut album. There is some nice pounding guitar and vocals here and it has the whole stop start procedure that is similar to "She's Got Spies" from "Radiator".

The title track is an excellent rocker and a live favourite. This song builds up nicely and has a nice mellowing outro to it. This song is a very fun rocker and keeps the album flowing really well. The track to follow it up has some amazing vocal work from Gruff which really powers the whole song. Quite emotional for such a crazy band really.

"Receptacle for the Respectable" is one of the best tracks on the album that is really proggy even though it is only 4 and a half minutes of music. The track explodes from the very first second with some "Rubber Soul" era Beatles style upbeat and positive acoustic work with great vocals. The song somehow finds its way into some slower moments and ends in an almost heavy metal, scary style climax. It really has to be heard to be believed, but it is an excellent, proggy, puzzling tune. This leads into some filler, its good filler though, with a short pulsating hip hop style tune. Rather puzzling but it works link the songs together and adds some trippiness to this album.

"Shoot Doris Day" adds some rather lovely string and orchestral work into the song and is quite an epic on this album. The vocal work is really strong and its an altogether amazing song that starts off powerfully and has some mellower verse sections. "Miniature" is another filler instrumental, this one is pretty crap but so short that it doesn't really bother me.

At the time that this album was released, Gruff Rhys said that "No Sympathy" was the best song that he ever wrote and best band composition. I think he could be right there as this song is truely a masterpiece. It starts out like a twisted acoustic ballad with some rather harsh lyrics. There is an epic chorus with string work to make it humourously dramatic as Gruff sings, "You deserve to die" in a really positive way with vocal harmonies. The track finds its way into some really trippy experimental sounds that swirl around in your head. An altogether amazing and epic track.

The next track, "Juxtaposed Wit U" is a beautiful work that is heavily based on orchestral work. A really positive and lyrically suggestive song that has become a favourite among fans. The verses have strange robotic vocal effects and when Gruff's normal vocals come in when the chorus hits it sounds lovely. A classic track.

The last 3 tracks off the album are less lively. These longer tracks are rather mellow and acoustic based but definitely three amazing tracks. "Presidential Suite", is one of the best. The theme of this song starts off about the affair between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski. The song is really beautifully sung, juxtaposed against the foul lyrics such as, "Honestly! Do we need to know if he really came inside her mouth?". This is another song that flows beautifully and has some amazing use of orchestral instruments that the band really acquired a taste for as they appear a lot on the next two studio albums.

The next two track wind down the album well with some slow and long moving pieces giving a balance of emotions and moods to the album in a fine way. This song builds up and down so well and is one of the proggier works of the album though probably not in a way that Yes or Genesis would do prog. Altogether this is a masterpiece. You can't really go wrong here. Highly recommended and a brilliant starting point for new fans.

Report this review (#43544)
Posted Saturday, August 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.5 stars

Probably their best, actually. The production quality's improved, their lyrics are more politically-oriented (and better) and this one, unlike any of the the others is actually consistently good all the way through. I'd say the following two have the best moments, though, but those albums are quite a bit more patchy, especially Love Kraft. Once again, there's nothing progressive here (apart from possibly "No Sympathy") but who cares? This band never intended to be "progressive" anyway, even if they did take a few influences from the Floyd and Caravan.

You might get this solely for the opening track, which is one of the best opening tracks ever IMO and really sets the scene for the album, even if it is in an odd way. Quite melancholic and quite beautiful, especially the opening piano line. The rest of the album is good as well so why not? This, along with its successor, is more recommended than their others - but don't expect prog.

Best track: Alternate Route to Vulcan Street

Report this review (#130263)
Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars After a Welsh interlude (which was not that bad), the band reverts to more conventional lyrics in English. For the global understanding, I can't say that this change is not welcome.

The "Caravan" influence is truly present on this work (it was already perceivable on "Mwng") but at the same time the band offers some good and straight forward rock parts. Such a dual song is "Sidewalk Serfer Girl" although the delectable quite and acoustic sections are very short here.

The band didn't forget their good melodic writing skills and proposed good alternate pop songs as well: just listen to the effective "Rings Around The World" and "At Least ?" to verify this statement. The latter being a sentimental rock ballad with very nice arrangements.

A sixties sound for the Beatles-esque "Receptacle For The Respectable". The highlight in this song is of course the superb vocal harmonies which are flowering like crazy in this beautiful song although the closing part sounds heavier and less harmonious.

If you fancy some good old psychedelia, I can only recommend "Touch Sensitive". An instrumental number which combines some heavy bass and good keys. I quite like the oppressive beat which contrasts with most of the other songs that are more on the melodic side like the following "Shoot Doris Day" which is another exquisite ballad. Some "Klaatu" flavour for sure.

Another good moment from "Rings Around The World". So far, so good?

We remain in the same territories with the early Floydean "No Sympathy". The band always managed to sound as if they were a and from the late sixties / early seventies; and this work is no other except that most of the songs are real good and crafted. This one sounding a bit childish maybe?

The first blunder is the syrupy and disco / reggae oriented "Juxtaposed With U". The magic key here is the "next" one without any doubt. The problem is that last songs from this album are not really on par: a mellow "Presidential Suite" and some country "Run Christian Run" can't really compete with the first nine songs from this album.

It is a pity, because this prevent me to go higher than three stars even if the band is again more inspired during the closing "Fragile Happiness". It is their best album so far IMHHO. Seven out of ten.

Report this review (#250395)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars 100th REVIEW

Yes, I have been doing these since last November and I have done 100 now. Aww, i'm so proud of myself.

Now onto this album.

For those who don't know, Super Furry Animals are a Welsh rock band with psychadellic influences.

Now alot of albums usually start of great, with all the strongest material at the start and more filler material at the end, but this album is almost the oppisite, with all the weak material at the start and all the amazing songs at the end.

Yes, the first half isn't the best, not bad, but not great either, but the 2nd half is just spectacular.

Their crossover style is amazing, taking pop, rock, psychadellic and at times electronica to make some great music. Basically, these guys were doing this before The Flaming Lips decided to make a similar style to theirs.

1. Alternate Route To Vulcan Street - Nice calm song with some nice Beatle esque orchestration. A great intro. Love the piano in this song. 8/10

2. Sidewalk Serfer Girl - Has a very Blur meets Elvis Costello vibe to it (this is very common on this album). Love the distorted stabs. Very Sonic Youth. Nice & dreamy chorus. 8/10

3. (Drawing) Rings Around The World - Nice and jaunty. Love the vocal harmonies in the final chorus. 8/10

4. It's Not The End Of The World? - Way too Beatley. How do they think they are? Oasis? The Rutles? 6/10

5. Receptacle For The Respectable - Ok, this song is pretty cool. Love all the different moods and sounds. The death metal growls at the end are pretty cool as well. 9/10

6. (A)Touch Sensitive - Pretty cool electronica instrumental. 8/10

7. Shoot Doris Day - Again, too Beatley. I do like the chorus though. The lyrics are just stupid, and not even funny. 7/10

8. Miniature - Short and sweet. Haha. 8/10

9. No! Sympathy - I love how well this song flows. I also love the chorus. Great vocal harmonies. Quite Ounk Floydy. The ending is very weird but very cool. Very Aphex Twin. 9/10

10. Juxtaposed With U - Love the vocorder. I don't think I've heard vocorder being used as good as it is in this song (It's even better than Sexual Eruption by Snoop Dogg, God I love that song). Yea, this song is just amazing. So dreamy and Flaming Lips like with an amazing chorus. This song is going to be a song that I won't stop listening to for a while. It's just so good and already thinking about it puts me in a good mood. 10/10

11. Presidential Suite - Blur and Elvis Costello spring to mind again. I do like the lyrics of this song, stupid as they are. This song also reminds me of Flight Of The Conchords. Haha. 9/10

12. Run! Christian, Run! - The vocal harmonies are very Red Hot Chili Peppers. Lovely accordian work and a great chorus. 9/10

13. Fragile Happiness - Great moog work. Nice and laidback. A lovely wee ending. 8/10

CONCLUSION: The first half is a wee bit weak, but the last half is so good. If you don't buy this album, then download the song Juxtaposed With U, never before has one song made an album so good.

Report this review (#286847)
Posted Thursday, June 17, 2010 | Review Permalink

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