Super Furry Animals – Mwng (2015)
The very fact that Super Furry Animals had the courage to release Mwng, an all-Welsh-language album, is proof that the group is the great eccentric band of its time. Unfortunately, many critics and listeners may dismiss Mwng as a stunt or a wacky joke, which is condescending — especially in light of what a terrific album this is. It doesn’t matter that many listeners will not understand the lyrics, since the music is terribly effective in its own right. Ironically, Mwng is more of a pop album than its predecessor, Guerrilla, which often took fascinating detours into electronica-inspired pure sound. Mwng has more than its fair share of evocative sonic textures — it’s easy to get lost not just in the surface sound but what’s buried beneath the melodies — yet it’s also a concise, sharply written psychedelic pop record. These are smart, melodic, catchy songs graced with inventive, clever arrangements. Super Furry Animals have tempered their harder rocking in favor of expanding their prog, psych, and pop inclinations. There are still numbers that rock, but they’re unconventional, taking wonderful left turns and being blessed with arrangements that are welcoming, but never predictable. Fuzztone guitars and floating keyboards vie for space in the mix, vocals swoon in reverb, horns sound equally eerie and enthusiastic, and instruments are compressed so they no longer sound normal. Even when it skirts with psych-pop convention, with sitars popping up in the mix, it sounds fresh. Mwng is simply intoxicating with its richly melodic songs and dreamlike flow. This is an otherworldly record not because it is sung in Welsh, but because the music is fully realized and visionary.