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Super Furry Animals : Northern lites

. [B]'Northern Lites'[/B] appears to be musically based somewhere between a Mexican cocktail bar, a '60s surf party, a Vegas lounge show and a really good acid trip.

Yet more proof that there isn't a band in Britain anything like as adventurous, as original, and at the same time as gloriously, proudly POP as Super Furry Animals. The Beta Band may be lovable mavericks, Blur might be artfully obtuse and Aphex Twin gleefully unhinged, but they don't always do it with the same genius idiosyncrasy and elegantly eccentric class

that

t
his band do.





Anyone else trying to make a record like this would end up sounding like cunts. And that's because Super Furries probably didn't even try. 'Northern Lites' appears to be musically based somewhere between a Mexican cocktail bar, a '60s surf party, a

Vegas

lounge show and a really good acid trip. And amazingly, they don't sound like tedious dilettante ironic wankers.





Probably because they get it slightly wrong. Who in sodomy would even dream of using steel drums, maracas and probably pepper mills, plus a full Tijuana brass compliment, in a modern pop song? You'll notice I don't really know what I'm talking about here, and that's

a

good sign, because Super Furries have sounds in their heads way beyond most people's imaginations, let alone the limited traditions of rock songwriting.





The fact that much of Gruff's vocal is pretty much indecipherable may prevent this record from its deserved 23-week residence at Number One. Something about distant lights, satellites and someone being "so demanding". We can only speculate what it's all about, which is probably the whole point.





What plants such images in your head is the sassy brass motif, Beach Boys harmonies and a tune of classic, Bacharach-echoing quality, a yearning, stargazing melody

that

is sure to return to your head as you buy your weekly travelcard

and

all points in-between.





On one level, you might call it easy listening if that didn't conjure up visions of bad men in wigs playing in west London

cabaret

clubs. In fact it's exceptionally bloody difficult to pull off esoterica like this with any real style. The fact that they have makes 'Northern Lites' head and shoulders above anything released this or most other weeks.

Jim Wirth

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