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on 21 November 2009
Looking at the reviews on Amazon of any of the Super Furries output, I'm struck by the fact that if you asked a hundred of their fans to list the nine SFA albums in order of preference, no one would list them in exactly the same order. More important, however, is the fact that the hundred fans would probably agree that there hasn't been a dud in that run of nine. Some are better than others, sure, but every single album contains moments of genius.

'Dark Days/Light Years', then. Well, it doesn't get off to a good start. 'Crazy Naked Girls' sounds like a jam that should never've been recorded, 'Mt.' is devoid of imagination and not worthy of SFA, and 'Moped Eyes' is sub-Hot Chip suburban disco nonsense. At this point during my first listen I was seriously thinking that the Furries had finally lost it.

Thankfully, starting with the fourth track, things seriously improve. 'Inaugural Trams' is a homage to Kraftwerk but the keyboards remind me of Pulp too. It's unlike anything SFA've done before and one of their best ever tracks. 'Inconvenience' is a magnificent stomp, 'Cardiff In The Sun' is a mad, rambling 8-minute epic, and 'The Very Best of Neil Diamond' has intriguing eastern (as in India and not Norwich) percussion. The album then loses its way briefly before the lovely harmonies in 'Where Do You Wanna Go?' / 'Lliwiau Llachar' and the slow build-up / Krautrock wig out / demented fade out of 'Pric'.

In short, 'Dark Days/Light Years' is brilliant in parts, occasionally awful, mostly great, and SFA are still bursting with ideas well into their second decade. Just don't ask me to rate it alongside all their other albums, you'll only disagree with me.
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on 13 January 2015
Good album
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on 5 April 2009
I initially felt the same as another reviewer in that after a couple of listens it hadn't quite gripped me. Then, with the sun shining and a cold beer in my hand, it all suddenly clicked into place. Summer arrived there and then. There are one or two weaker tracks at the end perhaps but generally I think the Furries have found their mojo again (the last album or two, for me, being slightly weaker).

When 'Cardiff in the Sun' flows into 'The Very Best of Neil Diamond' and that wonky eastern motif kicks in it's nigh on a perfect musical moment. This album brought to mind the song 'Smokin' off the Ice Hockey Hair EP - it's the sound of the Furries laid back, jazz cigarette in hand, and nodding along to a happy happy groove. I occasionally miss the psychelic pop of the first few records but that was 10 years ago and we've all grown up, SFA included.

There is no other band for me that, over the last ten years, has been so consistent while being so prolific and adventurous. I really feel lucky to have had the chance to follow this band since their early days but if you're new to them then this isn't a bad place to start at all.

So 4 stars from me as I can't give 4 1/2 - it ain't perfect but it's as close as I had hoped.
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on 28 April 2009
I wouldn't describe this as a "return to form", for the simple reason that the Super Furries have never been out of form. It does, however, sound more like the album Radiator, with a variation of experimental, free flowing tracks. The album seems more relaxed than Hey Venus!, as the songs don't have the same tight structure. The indie-rock fusion has worked wonders yet again. I was also very impressed by the CD cover - a colourful, cardboard sleeve, which is probably a good "green" option. It also contains a small poster inside, bearing very similar artwork to Hey Venus!. On this album, I would say that highlights include "Inaugural Trams", with a guest appearance from Nick McCarthy, and "Helium Hearts", which has an upbeat, melodic tune. As ever, SFA have managed to raise their standards yet again, which I would previously have considered impossible, after thirteen years. This album is therefore a triumph, and I whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone who wants to appear a fan of serious music.
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on 15 April 2009
...which isn't to suggest that their previous albums since they left Creation were substandard. No way. But Dark Days/Light Years is somehow.... really fresh, wonderfully surprising yet familiar! Its hard to explain, but since Guerilla SFA albums have always impressed in different ways yet somehow have lacked a certain capacity to give you a WFT?!?! moment.

Dark Days has the expansive, elaborate production that Love Kraft did, with the odd nod to Hey Venus's Glam direction, with the gleeful silliness of Guerilla. I think SFA have stopped trying to be great songsmiths (not Microsoft Songsmith!), and instead let themselves go.

Its got a song about Trams! With German Kraftwerkesque rapping! What more do you want!??!

Oooh, if you liked Animal Collectives current long player, this could be right up your cul-de-sac.
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on 8 April 2009
After 2007's solid but unremarkable Hey Venus!, the individual Super Furry Animals clearly agreed with the critics: it was time for a break and an adventure. Since then, drummer Dafydd Ieuan pissed about with Rhys Ifans in The Peth, and singer Gruff Rhys teamed up with producer Boom Bip made an '80s synth-pop concept album about a millionnaire car designer as Neon Neon.

As you'd expect after all that, 'Dark Days/Light Nights' (the band's ninth album) sounds like a band who've rediscovered the playful, ambitious spirit which first set them apart from their Britpop peers. First single 'Inaugural Trams' is the album's highpoint of eccentricity, setting a bizarre narrative about opening a tram system to a bubblegum electro-pop melody, then throwing in a spoken-word German cameo from Nick McCarthy of Franz Ferdinand. The end result sounds like The Smurfs covering Kraftwerk.

There are other moments of brilliance scattered throughout the album: 'The Very Best Of Neil Diamond' matches the year's best song title to one of their catchiest, most enjoyable songs in ages, while the slow-burning 'Cardiff In The Sun' and the Krautrock-esque 'Pric' are hypnotic extended jams. The album does, however, occasionally trip itself up with its laid-back feel, especially on 'Mt' and 'Inconvenience' - two forgettable pop songs with lazy, repetitive lryics. Likewise, opener 'Crazy Naked Girls' is an indulgent freak-out which outstays its welcome by several minutes.

'Dark Days/Light Years' has a tendency to become unfocused, but it also brings their psychedelic experimentalism and sense of humour back to the foreground for the first time since 2001 masterwork Rings Around the World. And that's far preferable to playing it safe for a whole album.
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on 26 March 2009
In a recent Pitchfork review Animal Collective declared that it must be "weird to be in a band with good musicians", referring to the fact that they basically view themselves as electronic collagists than a band in the strict (i.e., formally trained) sense. It is an interesting distinction because Super Furry Animals are first and foremost a band in the traditional mold, yet their new album finds them embracing an abandon and polychromaticism that will draw comparisons to Animal Collective's stunning `Merriweather Post Pavilion` earlier this year. Both albums share a playfulness and freedom of approach, infusing their joyful take on psychedelia with close West Coast harmonies. Where `Dark Days' differs is in its insistence on grooves, particularly those accented by Krautrock and glam rock, which add a stealthy intensity to the band's typically sun-filled universe. More an admirer than a fan of the Super Furries - my prior favourite was `Phantom Power' - `Dark Days/Light Years' was a genuine revelation for me.

The recurrent theme throughout the album is chugging motorik rhythms that set a foundation for an unhurried, Technicolor expansiveness. Opener `Crazy Naked Girls' - a mix of funky beats, Prince-style vocals and cock rocking, `this one goes to 11' guitars - vaguely recalls The Flaming Lips `The W.A.N.D'. In fact, aspects of `Dark Days/Light Years' resemble The Lips `At War With the Mystics` but with a lightness of touch palpably absent on that album. However, `Crazy Naked Girls' is arguably the most self-consciously wacky track on an album chock full of wigged-out pleasures. The beginning of `Mt' sounds a bit like folk-electronica bores Tunng, before segueing into a lolloping glam rock groove replete with a disco string section and soulful backing vocals.

Elsewhere there are nods to Bowie (from the Berlin period to Scary Monsters), particularly on the retro-futurist diptych (if I may!) `Moped Eyes' and `Inaugural Trams'. Both retain an artful credibility despite featuring all manner of antiquated synthesizing devices (moogs, vocoders, et al.) presumably hanging around the studio after Gruff's electropop project Neon Neon. `Inaugural Trams' also recalls Kraftwerk and ELO, and features a rap in German by a chap from Franz Ferdinand that (amazingly) doesn't ruin the song. In fact, many of Gruff Rhys's vocals on `Dark Days' are treated , giving them a new textural range and somehow allowing the band to play out of themselves a bit. Furthermore, the vocals are generally less prominent in the mix, making for a more democratic sound less pivoted on Gruff's presence.

`Inconvenience' is rollicking glam rock scrawled with all-manner of heady, OTT psychedelic ephemera, while `Cardiff In The Sun' is lush, hazy prog. `The Very Best of Neil Diamond' - probably the album's truely singular moment as well as its silliest song title - is an inspired amalgem of bollywood mish-mashery and electro, but is underpinned by an irresistable hook. There is still space on `Dark Days' for SFA's more archetypally catchy, harmonious pop, for instance on `Helium Hearts', `Where Do You Wanna Go?' and the breezy groove of `White Socks/Flip Flops'. The closer `Pric', begins as Krautrock but morphs into wacked-out tribal trance replete with bird calls and 808 acid patterns. As a finale it brings to mind Animal Collective's epic `Brother Sport' and another multi-couloured, unearnest psychedelic act `ooioo' (particularly the Japanese band's superb `Gold and Green`). An album for Dark Days maybe, but one of such funky, irresistable catchiness, one can't help but see light at the end of the tunnel.
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on 7 May 2009
Dark Days/Light Years
What can I say but this is the ninth studio album by the Super Furrys'
and they are back to their playfull and experiment best,the opening track "Crazy Naked Girls"
is a fuzzy guitar driven insane and multi paced monster of a jam derived from being on tour with The American Band Dead Meadow which you will hear from the riffedge along with the Furrys wailing multilayer harmonies similar to the ones they did on the track The Teacher off 1997's Guerilla album, funnily enough This album is reminicient of Guerilla in it's uptempo hynotical experimentalism and sounds effortless despite the great depth of detail and hard work clearly worked into this album, but thats nothing new to the Furry's This album just floats along organically and you are treated to a no holds barred none musical style non audio or musical genre predjudice! This album works on many levels from the 1st listen to your 100th It's easy to get into from the off and after more listens behind their usual catchy harmonie layered melodies, you will begin to unravel the tapestry of rich sounds layered amongst tracks also Songs like Inaugrial Trams really stick in your head but it's a nice vibe to have replaying in there.I honestly think that every song on this album could be a single while obviously cutting down the longer tracks it really is all Killer and no Filler and to get that from the Furrys is 110% perfection as all of their albums are great listens too but the only one I would have ever have given a 7/10 for would have been Love Kraft due to a lack of Gruff Rhys lead vocals and melodies. I think that SFA deserved to have had the popularity and mega success of the likes of oasis and U2 etc because of their sheer creative Sgt Pepper like brilliance without sacfricing great songs and melodies in conjunction to the far-out musical journeys,not unlike Pinkfloyd or Radiohead but Pumped by a Beatles/Beach boys Heart. BUY LISTEN AND ENJOY. Dark Days this most certainly is not for Cardiff's Phycadelic pop Lunatics.
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on 14 April 2009
To be fair i've just finished listening to this album for the first time so can't give an in depth review (not that I ever do!). I liked it on first listen, where as Love Kraft took me a few listens to get into. Don't think "Dark Days.." is their best but it's good and fans won't be dissapointed. I think it gets better as the album progresses. Worth a purchase if you like something a little different.
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on 1 June 2009
This has really grown on me-- a fabulous journey of an album, beginning with the truely heavy 'Crazy Naked Girls' (excellent guitar stuff)then on to some classicly melodic Furries tunes, building up to the gorgeous 'Cardiff in the Sun'... then you realise you're only half way through-- thanks, guys!-- because it just keeps getting better. Enjoy, then go see them!!!
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