Sometime after Radiator, Super Furry Animals began exploring a wide sonic world, eventually drifting far out into orbit with albums like Rings Around the World and Phantom Power, albums so ambitious and so packed with celeb cameos that they brought the band attention from the respectable press. As accomplished as those albums were, they found SFA losing their divine gift of suggesting that anything could happen, the very thing that made their first four albums so divine. While they didn't get as overstuffed and lethargic as Mercury Rev or Flaming Lips did when they turned all serious -- an impish sense of humor always pulsated underneath their music -- Super Furry Animals did turn a bit ponderous, which made the relative levity of Love Kraft welcome even if the album was uneven, but that warm, hazy record in no way suggested the full-fledged return to pop power that is 2007's Hey Venus! By far the tightest record SFA has released since Radiator -- boasting no song over five minutes and four clocking in under three -- this is a concise, song-oriented record, which is somewhat ironic since it began its life as something as a concept album. The narrative was ditched during the recording as the group culled together 11 songs that hold together as an intensely colorful, insanely catchy pop album. Such a claim may suggest that this is the return of the frenzied rush of Fuzzy Logic, which isn't exactly true, because after a flurry of hooks at the outset -- "Run-Away," "Show Your Hand," and even the cleverly tossed-off opener, "The Gateway Song," all hold their own with "God! Show Me Magic" and "Herman Loves Pauline" -- the record settles into softer territory, trading on the lush Beach Boys, Bacharach, and ELO of their turn-of-the-century records. But if those albums were gauzy, as much about the texture as about the tune, here the focus is solely on the song, with each of the 11 tracks standing on its own yet working together to create an addictive 37-minute pop album. And just because this is disciplined in a way that Super Furry Animals haven't been in years doesn't mean they've ceased to progress -- they've never had songs as lazily soulful as the closing "Let the Wolves Howl at the Moon" or "The Gift That Keeps Giving" with its electric sitars, and "Baby Ate My Eightball" threads their electronic fascinations into a lean rocker, the kinds of subtle innovations that prove that the Furries can still surprise as they enter their second decade. That reclaimed sense of unpredictability is as easy to embrace as the simple pop pleasures of Hey Venus! as a whole.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine