Super Furry Animals – Love Kraft

The definition of pop music seems to have been altered for the current generation of teenagers. Today, it is “music” written by middle aged millionaires and recorded by glamorized strippers. It is nonsense about heartache and desire given praise from a generation it wasn’t written by nor fairly portrays the emotions of. Pop music should be about catchy melody, imaginative lyrics and special instrumental wizardry. It should be an original and colorful experience. Few bands today can capture these elements but Super Furry Animals do very well. They are masters of this sound and Love Kraft is a wonderful album.

Super Furry Animals formed in Cardiff, Wales, in 1993 and have had a steady following ever since. Gruff Rhys serves as the bands leader and he is a great one. He is the main songwriter, vocalist and lead guitarist. Their songs are quirky and filled with appealing sounds. Rhys has a very mellow and warm voice that fits with the orchestral pop universe the band provides. Love Kraft, the seventh studio album by the group, is yet another fine offering by this unique band. First time listeners will discover a candidate for their new favorite band while fans will agree that the quintet hasn’t lost their drive.

The cover of Love Kraft resembles a colony on a distant planet and it represents the music well. The album as a whole gives off the sensation of isolation like being in deep space. The disc opens with a splash of water and proceeds with 54 minutes of great pop/electronic music. The trademark mixing of instruments and sound effects is still here and, just like with all their other material, it works. That being said, Love Kraft has little experimenting by the band and a lot of familiarity. Whether that is a negative point or not is of the listener to decide. The only noticeable addition here is that all members do lead vocals for the first time but it doesn’t alter the sound much. Expectations of great original music are well satisfied with Love Kraft but devoted fans should know they won’t hear anything revolutionary this time around.

It is seldom when an album has as few downsides as Love Kraft does. Besides of the one of no new ground being touched (which is not really a complaint as much as it is an observation), two of the songs don’t represent the originality of the band very well. “Ohio Heat” is a very catchy and likeable song but it is an obvious rip off of “Trick of the Tail” by Genesis. It is a great melody and it makes a great song but it’s still a let down that Rhys and Co. have used someone else’s song (whether consciously or not) as a template for their own. The other problematic song, “Lazer Beam”, is simply too formulaic and too much of a single type song. Both of these pieces have the distinctive SFA sound but they’re not particularly original.

Love Kraft could be seen as the most mature and calm album in the Super Furry Animal catalog. If previous works showed a need for trying new things to see what worked, this album states that the group knows what they need to do in order to make a good record. It is not the best album by them but it is a good place to start and get used to their sound. If this album is appreciated, Rings Around the World (their masterpiece) and Phantom Power come highly recommended.