Super Furry Animals have shapeshifted in their two decades, dabbling first in techno and then burrowing through various mutations of rock. On Hey Venus!, the quirky Welsh group tosses in fuzztone riffs, shadowy disco, lonely trumpets, brooding piano and the dilapidated honk of a tuba. Basking in overarching swaths of ’90s new wave, ’50s crooning, ’70s psychedelic smokiness, and glam rock falsettos, their offbeat sense of humor is equally matched to their more tender lyrics—evoking something like Ween impersonating the Beatles.
Despite this mishmash of familiar—and almost generic—styles, SFA are anything but blandly derivative. Even if they appear to be messengers from music eras gone by, they deliver a smackdown of crisp songs that inhabit their own captivating world. “Suckers!” is amusing in its thinly veiled snarkiness, and the line “tell me you’re a phoenix rising from above” manages to deftly tip cynicism toward sincerity. Equally thrilling is “Show Your Hand,” a perfect pop tune, cool and coy enough to drive away the saccharine.
is one of the most luminous albums of late, proving SFA adept at dramatic rise and fall, and even more brilliant when it comes to nuanced restraint.