A grim mood stalks like an enigmatic spirit through Phantom Power
, Super Furry Animals' spellbound sixth studio album. Grappling with weighty themes like death, disease and holy war, this is clearly a product of dark times. But luckily the Furries have the sunny belief to stay the executioner's hand: musically, this is an album where brilliant light spirits away the thematic gloom, where florid semi-acoustic ballads and technicolour glam-rock stomps struggle to keep the darkness at bay. Take, for example,"Hello Sunshine", a sleepy Beatles
-esque number that sees Gruff Rhys standing proud on a Freak Power ticket: "I'm a minger / You're a minger too / So come on mingers / I want to ming with you."
When Phantom Power is bleak, it's startlingly so. "Out of Control" is a Stooges-style rush of torture-chamber ambience that's as dark as any Furries song to date. But more often it's playful: the galloping glam of "Golden Retriever" finds Rhys appropriating the language of old bluesmen and twisting it into modern misshapes, while the likes of "Slow Life" have keyboardist Cian Ciaran's electronics assimilating into song structures with a skill that's previously seemed elusive. Sure, it's a jumble, but, like the Beatles' White Album, it hangs together--an album united in the face of adversity. --Louis Pattison
Super Furry Animals - Phantom Power [Limited Digipak]