If you’re a beloved, reunited ‘90s band releasing your first new material in seven years, you could perhaps have picked a better day to do so than May 13, 2016, one day after The Stone Roses dropped their massive comeback single.
But then, Super Furry Animals were never ones for making a big statement; they were askew to the Britpop scene when they first came out, they charted a singular path through the noughties and wrapped up without fanfare in 2009.
Their comeback single is a reminder of their joyous brilliance. While the Roses’ ‘All For One’ sounds like a football song but isn’t, ‘Bing Bong’ is a football song that doesn’t sound like one. The band have put it out as an unofficial anthem for the Welsh football team ahead of the European Championships this summer (Manic Street Preachers having recorded the official one), but an accompanying press release explains that its aims are for the song to be “a beacon of faith to return to when your best centre-forward gets sent off, or it rains at your festival”.
The Krautrock-influenced track begins with vocodered vocals, a ticking beat and pulsating bass, an update of the beatier side of the Furries’ work that, you feel, shows they had more in league with the likes of LCD Soundsystem than they were given credit for. It’s a bonkers track, of course, which is absolutely apt for a band that always had a strong sense of the surreal and – crucially – it taps into an ineffable something that frontman Gruff Rhys is incapable of connecting with in his varied solo work.
The band say the track is intended to be “a reinvention of the totemic, communal anthem,” and they’ve achieved it, kind of. Anyone can sing along to it (the lyrics are mostly “bing bong”), but you’d be hard pressed to establish its groove in a terrace chant. If, as some have cruelly pointed out, the Roses song brings to mind the theme tune to ‘80s cartoon Dogtanian, the Furries track sounds like something you’d hear at a rave on the Teletubbies mound.
Will there be a new album too? The band haven’t said and, unlike the Roses, they’re not being stalked around being asked about it. If this single is a one-off, then it’s a brilliant epilogue for a singular career.