Monday, March 19, 2012

The Good Ship Rediscovery: Super Furry Animals - Out Spaced

We all forget about the older stuff from time to time, in our quest to stay up to speed with the latest and greatest. But one should always respect their elders. So don’t forget about them, y’hear?

It's been rather a long time since last I mentioned Super Furry Animals. But as the days get longer and warmer and wackier, I'd say it's time. Today, boys and girls, I'd like to discuss the musical merits of the band's 1998 offering Out Spaced, a collection of b-sided and other non-album tracks. It is weird and wooly and wonderful, as you might expect. At the time it was released, I merely loved SFA for being SFA. But the older I get, the more I appreciate just how singular their sound really is. And the dynamite Out Spaced is pretty representative of just what SFA is all about.

Out Spaced sets off with what is probably my most favorite song of the cache, the spirited stomper "The Man Don't Give A Fuck" (true!). I'll leave you to try your hand at counting just how many times Gruff Rhys coos the word "fuck" in that honeyed voice of his, I've always managed to lose count. But in the fuck-it spirit of the song and of the band, it's worth noting that this song was actually released. As a single. Fuck me! That's sticking it to the man I'd say. In typical Furries fashion, all that brassy bravado segues immediately into the spacey, ethereal weightlessness of "Dim Brys Dim Chwys." The song bleeps and bounces softly along a candy-colored space river, Rhys and co. charting sunny-side up Eno territory with a cheeky grin.

Third on Out Spaced is another favorite, the heady, thick 70s groove-laden ode to puffery, "Smokin'." And yes, it is about a certain kind of smoking. "What's the meaning of life," begs the warbled, almost giggled question, as Welsh boy funk sasses the place up. The end of the song speeds ahead into a seemingly endless refrain of "I just wanna smoke it," while the senses continue to confound and pupils continue to dilate. Classic. And once again, the tone changes right away, as "Smokin'" is followed by the languidly pastoral "Dim Bendith." That the song is sung in Welsh adds to the Alice in Wonderland, daydream believer feel. Truly a lovely listen, that one.

"Arnofio/Glo In The Dark" is what you might call a Gemini song, i.e. the song is a wee bit schizophrenic. Loopy, gentle dreamscapes clash unexpectedly with jagged guitar licks, and naturally it all works out perfectly. "Guacamole" has been a favorite for an impossibly long time, a full-throttle ditty all about...sleep deprivation. Yes, really. "I need revolution cuz I can't afford the price of cake," wittily quips Rhys against noise somewhere between 60s girl group shoo bee dos and murky grunge (Super Furries style, of course).

And that, my pretty little things, is just the first half.

It probably goes without saying (but I'll say it all the same) that when it comes to being a little extraterrestrial, a little outside the pale, a little, dare I say, spaced out, you'd be hard pressed to find a band that fits the bill so beautifully as the obtuse wonderland magic of Super Furry Animals. Out Spaced is just another glimpse into the incredible funhouse the band has inhabited for many a happy year, and you really owe it to your ears to give it a go.


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