Super Furry Animals

Love Kraft

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As Super Furry Animals settle into their second decade of recording and with it their status as veteran rockers, they're inevitably less surprising than they were at the outset of their career, when their music not only had an exhilarating rush, but there was a sense of impish glee, the sense that they were getting away with something that they shouldn't. That naturally has declined with the passage of time, yet with their seventh album, 2005's Love Kraft, SFA show signs of settling comfortably into their status as alt-rock veterans. Compared to the top-heavy, ponderous Rings Around the World and the trippy pop of Phantom Power, Love Kraft sounds warm and relaxed, lush and dreamy, with a strong, distinct sweet undercurrent to the music. Since Phantom producer Mario Caldato, Jr. has been brought back, it's not a great surprise that the album has a similar hazy vibe, but where that album seemed to drift away a little too often, Love Kraft floats in the air -- perhaps it doesn't explore as much territory, but it canvasses its ground particularly well, creating a smooth, almost soulful spin on their signature prog-psych-pop sound. For the first time, each member of the group contributes a lead vocal, but it's a testament to the band's overriding vision that the album never sounds anything less than cohesive. If some of the songs seem to announce themselves in a grander fashion than others -- "Zoom!" is an epic space-age opener, "Ohio Heat" has a wonderful spacy shimmer, and "Lazer Beam," the closest this record comes to an outright rocker, is as addictive as "Golden Retriever," as if Bacharach did psychedelic music -- the songs that recede into the background are all strong and help tie the album together into an ideal late-night record, in all meanings of the term. Perhaps it's a little disappointing on some level that Love Kraft is merely a very good Super Furry Animals effort, with few surprises outside of its alluring sleekness, but this is another excellent album from a band that may no longer shock and surprise, yet always provides a rich, rewarding experience each time it releases a record.

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