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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 5 August 2003
A tip to begin with, anyone else thinking about reviewing any Furries LP, don't do it after one listen, you'll change your mind...guaranteed.
I now feel able to review this masterpiece after two weeks and a dozen plays right through. How do you market an LP of this nature, when it must be the hardest thing in the world to think of single to promote it. National radio can't handle anything as way out as tracks that have different endings to the their beginnings (And no, not even you Jo Whiley!!)]
Hence Golden Retreiver was obvious as is maybe Venus and Serena, as they are both instantly catchy and likeable. Go deeper and play more though and feel your mouth open in splendour at The Piccolo Snare and Hello Sunshine (but why that sample at the start??) And i'm not even gonna start about Slow Life...yet!
Let's face it, these boys are wonderful, imaginative and creative like we haven't had for a while, i'm biting my lip trying not to mention the White Album or Abbey Road, but you can't help the comparison. Sure, The Thrills, Kings Of Leon et al are solid enough, but please, I implore you, sit down and listen closely to Phantom Power and in particular, Slow Life. This is Techno, music hall, guitar stomp and back again at least twice in 7 minutes of great music. A little word for The Undeafeted too, we can't ignore this Ska tribute, but unlike most tributes, this would would settle well in any Specials lp.
I have been collecting popular music all my life (which is a mighty long time now!!) and a good few bands are in my heart. None take up as much room as The Super Furry Animals. And for that I salute them. Buy or hang your head in shame.
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on 9 August 2005
Proof that the SFA find it imposible to write a bad song. Every track on this masterpiece could be a single....but such is their quirkiness and genius, so different are they to the manufactured chart tripe, that there's no way anyone could accuse them of playing safe.
My favourite track's "Cityscape Skybaby", which is music that could comfortably accompany the titles of a fantasy sci-fi epic, such is its scale, and the guitar/synth solo is just perfect. Urban music by definition....in that it has a very "Urban" sound to it (Cityscape!)
On a more parochial level is "The Piccolo Snare", which sounds absolutely perfect when driving through the countryside on a grey, overcast day. The electronics at the end are just.....that word again, perfect.
"Liberty Belle" could be placed alongside "Mr. Bluesky" and "Soldier Girl" in the list of the "Happiest songs of all time". The lyrics might not be too positive, but such sunny melodies, the (ahem) perfect pop song....
They save the best 'til last though. "Slow Life" is perfect (I promise, that's the last time I'll use that word) opening music...EVERY album made by anyone should have Slow Life as the opening track....EVERY band should perform a cover as their opening song when live....of course, the SFA use it as their set opener nowadays and it rocks. Presumably it was placed at the end to leave a lasting impression, and because "Hello Sunshine" is very pretty.
Perfect (sorry).
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on 28 December 2003
Album of 2003 full stop. For a band who had been consistently brilliant over 5 studio albums to better them all (in my opinion) is some feat and yet they are still largely overlooked.
Phantom power has it all from Summery acoustic ballads(Hello Sunshine, Bleed Forever)to Modern pop/rock (Liberty Belle, Venus & Serena)and Beach Boys type songs (Cityscape Skybaby) theven attempt Welsh reggae on The Undefeated and show they are not afraid to rock on Out of Control. Those songs alone would make it a great album but there are two that take it to another level, final song Slow Life with its techno beats and harmonica is astonishing and guitarist Bunf's Sex, War and Robots is my favourite song of all purely because when the whole band sing "If tears could kill, i'd be a long time gone" its so beautiful it could melt even the hardest of hearts. If you are wondering what to buy with your Christmas HMV vouchers buy this. Nuff Said!!
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on 24 July 2003
The Super Furry Animals new album is among there best, if not the best, of their work. Yet what this DVD offers is a chance to hear the great album sounding even better than its CD version. The 5.1 surround sound enhances the songs to a whole new level and enable you to hear more backing vocals, instruments and sounds that were lost somewhere in the CD mix. Basicly this DVD makes the album sound even better, if that was possible.
Yet what it also offers cannot be ignored. The animations contributed by long time animator for the animals Pete Fowler help explain the song and are often funny, touching and even rather deep, fans of his "monsterism" artwork and toys, and SFA fans alike will love these cartoons. Also featured is an album length wallpaper (that moves and has occasional surprises) and some ultra hidden footage (took me a while to find). These make the deal all the more sweeter.
The one dissapointment for some may be the videos featured for the songs. Where 2001's "rings around the world" DVD offered funny, brilliant, if sometimes low budget, videos this dvd offers more of a screensaver to glare at. You get your TV turned into a lava lamp, a colour spectrum, a wall clock, a radio and many other strange things.
So if you expect great videos, don't buy this DVD. I for one love this new direction as i found the ring around the world videos distracting. Instead this time the band offer brilliant images that enhance to the feeling of the sound rather than distract your listning. A bubble rising to the rock riff of "out of control" and cells of colour joining to the techno folk of "slow life" seem strangly very relavent.
After all the dvd is all about the 5.1 surround mix and so if thats what you want, this will be a great purchase with the added bonus of brilliant "screen saver" videos. If you want music videos, watch mtv.
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on 28 May 2003
From the sunshiney opener of 'Hello Sunshine' to the melodic close of 'Slow Life', sfa have followed up 'Rings Around The World' with a fantastic, intriguing summery album.
Most musically similar to 'mwng' but also reminiscent of parts of 'radiator', 'Phantom Power' sees the super furries in a world of sea, summer and sunshine and never before has the beach boys influence been so evident.
As always, lyrically they are inconsistent, on 'Hello Sunshine' Gruff sings 'you're a minger, i'm a minger too, so come on minger, let me ming with you', whilst on 'sex, wars and robots' bumf, making his singing debut, sings 'if tears could kill, i'd be a long time gone.'
The strongest songs on the album are the caribbean, kettle drum infused 'The Undefeated', the beach boys-esque anthemic 'The Piccolo Snare' and 'Out of control', which is most different to anything they have done before. Other standout tracks are the emotional 'Bleed Forever' and the album closer 'Slow Life.' For the SFA purists, they also include the forthcoming single 'Golden Retriever', possibly the 'God! Show Me Magic' of 'Phantom Power.' However, this is probably the weakest track on the whole album and not indicative of the album as a whole.
Overall the super furries have moved into a far more intriguing musical and melodic world than the over the top 'Guerilla' and the at times over produced 'Rings Around The World.' Whilst not quite reaching the heights of 'fuzzy logic' or 'radiator' it is probably their best effort since the latter, and hints that the future for the super furries could be even brighter.
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on 27 July 2003
Just sat down to watch Phantom Power for the first time. If you have bought it, thinking it to be a collection of unrelated promo videos slung together, you may be pleasantly suprised.
The DVD is a magical trip into world of The Super Furries, with animations by Peter Fowler, preceeding each song. The journey begins inside a giant diarama, and in order to watch each video, you play musical roulette, and end up with a random track each time, (which is a great idea, as it makes you veiw the album in a different way).
The songs are accompanied by visceral animations, pictures and videos and kinda conjure up those kinds of images you get just before you fall asleep, and make the music much more enjoyable, as the two go together so well.
There is a lot of stuff on this dvd, as there are remixes of every song on the album, commentries and hidden features (I haven't found all of them yet!)
all in all, it's weird, fun, scary and lovely.
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on 8 June 2003
If your a Super Furries fan then you'll love this, if you've never heard them before buy this and then you'll become a member of the SFA fan club. With the SFA we have enjoyed a journey from Fuzzy Logic to the Welsh album mwng, a surreal experience in itself, how many of you found yourself singing along even tho your Welsh is well not good at all. With the Phantom Power they are proving to us that they can still do what they showed in Radiator and Fuzzy.
'Hello Sunshine' marks the return, a sweet melodical tune, calming and a chilled tune and then we hear that familiar voice as Gruff pounces in, you know this is gonna be good. Liberty Belle follows and the journey is well under way and with the new single Goolden Retriever following 4 minutes later u are digging this album. This is the greatest album of the year and I find it difficult to think about what could better it, in fact it is a frightening thought.
Buy it, listen to it, love it, listen to it again and again and again..........
SFA at their best!
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on 5 November 2003
If you're expecting a feature length animation, akin to the 'Rings Around The World' DVD, and are not the type content to be trying something different then you will most likely be disappointed.
SFA have taken a leading role in carrying music through to the twenty first century. The music speaks for itself; they are one of very few bands who can build bridges between many different genres of music, avoid being pigeon-holed, and not turn stale. 'Phamtom Power' is testament to this and the experimental success of the band is reflected in the structure of this DVD. It seems not to have been the intention of the band to produce what many punters would have expected. They have instead introduced, what one can only hope, other bands will try to reproduce. The dvd proves SFA to be visionaries and may be the answer to record companies gripes about revenue losses etc.
The structure of the DVD is at first mildly baffling and will deter an unadventurous mind. Expecting to be able to just press play, as one could with 'Rings Around the World', and have magical visions spew along with the music for an awesome hour but finding that the only additional entertainment provided with the played album as a whole is a seemingly static picture of a model railway, I began to feel dissappointed. I then realised that I would have to be a little more in control of the DVD and work from the main menu. The main menu allows you to move yourself around a 'phantom'-ridden dungeon-esque area to the title page of each track on the album. Each track on the album is then split into four sections; the tune itself, the remix (some of which are some of the best transitional techno-SFAesque genre tracks available), a scroll of the lyrics, and a dry and very ironic producers' commentary. The producer's commentary will, I think, be looked over by many but it had me in stitches, it is the jewel in the genius of this DVD. So from a different perspective what one has with this DVD is the album with far better sound quality, a new album of awesome remixes by the likes of Zan Lyons (remixing 'Out Of Control'; the most unlikely song on the album for him but still mind-bogglingly good) and a truly phenomenal jazz-electro remix from Fourtet, and a Spinal Tap-esque commentary about the production of the album. (Note, no mention of animation).
The DVD is a music programme that you can take control of and opens up a new world of entertainment that other artists should think of copying or adjusting. SFA have brought comedy to music without having to sing about lumberjacks or sperm, and they have found a way of keeping their original tracks sacred alongside the introduction of new tracks that should blow your mind. Their intention seems to have been the introduction of a new format and they have not missed the mark. The one thing that I would critiscise is the expense that we all have to go through to get the programme and am surprised that those who 'need devolution because they can't affpord the price of cake' are willing to put us through this financial hoop in order to get the full album that is the price of the DVD and CD combined. On this note however surely there is an answer to record companies' gripes. SFA as financial genius. It is for these reasons that the DVD is awesome and visionary.
The animation however is disappointing. The static pictures shown during the songs are pleasant but dull. The animation prior to the the songs (30 sec snippits) are too short but, as afore said, the animation seems not to have been SFA's priority. With insight one might have presupposed this anyway. 'Phantom Power' has a completely different concept to 'Rings.........' so to make comparisons (for judgement's sake) is futile.
Therefore, here is a new format. A format for the combination of arts. A format for bringing music into the interactive age. This dvd will hopefully go down in history as a first of its kind. However as with most debut ideas it is not flawless; the animation could be better without it needing to be as much of a distraction as it is with 'Rings' and there should be ways of playing the dvd as a whole if you do just want to sit back and let the awesome melodies wash over.
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on 22 August 2003
If the Super Furries leant a little too much on computers on their last outing, Phantom Power is a spectacular return to the form of writing and performing beautifully simple songs well.
The events of the last year have clearly taken their toll on Gruff Rhys' lyrics, riddled throughout with swipes at the US, from war to pollution.
From the gentle pop of Liberty Belle, through the pomp-rock of Golden Retriever, to the C&W-tinged Sex, War & Robots, this is a band back on top form creatively. As good a first single as Golden Retriever was, it's easy to imagine the deliberations which took place to select it; this is an album packed with seven or eight candidates for a chart outing.
The band is still flirting with its liking for technology, but now it complements the songs rather than overruns them. Phantom Power is SFA's finest offering since Radiator.
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on 22 July 2003
If like me you feel the SFA have never really hit their stride since Radiator (with the possible exception of Mwng), then you're in for a treat. Out go Guerilla's dabblings with disposable electronica and Rings Around The World's hit-and-miss highs and lows, in come Bunf's new pedal steel, bucketloads of lush vocal harmonies and the kind of world-beating songwriting that you loved the Super Furries for when you first heard the likes of Play It Cool and Ice Hockey Hair.
The tunes are just superb: you'll have at least 6 of them stuck in your head within a day of buying the album. Even the one or two tracks that don't make the best first impression (for me, "Sex, War and Robots" and "The Piccolo Snare") soon prove to be real growers. Of course, it wouldn't be the Super Furries without a bit of clattering techno: step forward Slow Life, an album closer on a par with Mountain People.
As with Mwng and Rings Around The World, the first single isn't really representative of the album as a whole. Golden Retriever's glam stomp is the paciest track on the album; the mood elsewhere is more mellow, almost Mwng-like. (The swelling harmonies of "Venus And Serena" are straight out of Ymaelodi A'r Ymylon - a.k.a Track 2 of Mwng. :)
One sour note: avoid the DVD unless you have a 5.1 surround system. I don't, and the visuals are frankly dreadful -- it makes the Rings Around The World DVD look hi-tech. So unless you can appreciate the 5.1 mix, it's basically like listening to the album while you watch paint dry. Buy the CD and a tin of paint, and you'll not only save a few quid but you'll have bought one of the finest albums you'll ever own.
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