Top critical review
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The Furries off form
on 13 August 2003
SFA’s fifth album is, to crudely borrow a footballing cliché, an album of two halves. Well, perhaps that’s a bit unfair – it’s good for about two thirds actually. Basically, the latter stages of the album are relentlessly mid-tempo. Which is fine if you’re into Bon Jovi, but we expect far greater things from this quintet of musical geniuses than to produce an album that falls completely flat on its face at the end.
Shame really, because the first half is very strong. OK so the title track resembles THAT Status quo song, but in-itself its an enjoyable little blast. Ditto ‘Sidewalk Serfer Girl’, which effortlessly marries folksy strumming to crunching guitar riffs before leading to a joyous chorus. ‘It’s Not the End of the World’ features impressively understated strings and fine high-pitched vocals from Gruff, whilst ‘Shoot Doris Day’ is an excellent epic orchestral number that builds to a truly stirring climax.
The rot sets in with ‘No! Sympathy’, an inferior re-tooling of ‘Mountain People’ that comes across as so turgid that any merit in the electronic wigout towards the end is lost, as the listener no doubt would have skipped it by that stage. Fittingly enough, the album then proceeds to fall asleep. Yes ‘Juxtaposed with U’ and ‘Run! Christian, Run!’ are fine songs in themselves; in fact the latter is probably the best on the album. But they are hampered by the tedious cabaret of ‘Presidential Suite’ and the truly underwhelming album closer, ‘Fragile Happiness’.
If this were an album from a lesser band it would, on the basis of the good songs, probably deserve four stars. As it’s by a band of SFA’s quality, it deserves nothing more than three. Fortunately, they’re back on track with latest offering, ‘Phantom Power’.