First impressions of Hey Venus!

My main concern about Super Furry Animals' eight album was that there'd be too many slow-but-pretty songs. The last three records have seen many, many such songs (off the top of my head: Fragile Happiness, Frequency, Atomik Lust, Bleed Forever, Ohio Heat, Presidential Suite, It's Not the End of the World?, Run! Christian! Run!, Hello Sunshine, Walk You Home, Alternate Route to Vulcan Street...) and precious few mental fast ones. Now, I don't dislike songs from that list, I really love a few of them, and their arrangements and such are often fantastic. And I also understand full well that bands evolve, and can't be playing dumb, fast songs with names like 'Focus Pocus' forever. They've just played slow-but-pretty a lot lately, and I was just jonesin' for some songs that sounded like they were recorded by crazy people again.

First things first, 'Hey Venus!' is a good fifteen minutes leaner than anything they've done in years, so things don't get boring, although they could've trimmed a minute of special effects off from 'Carbon Dating'. There are still a few slow-but-pretty songs, which are all alright - 'Suckers' is especially strong - but I'm most interested in the middle segment, beginning with 'Neo Consumer', which heralds to early SFA, reminded me of 'Chupacabras' and 'Bad Behaviour' which is no bad thing. I really think this song would've made a better lead single than 'Show Your Hand', which is very safe and pleasant enough, I suppose, but 'Neo Consumer' would have people saying "Whoa, this new record might be awesome".

'Into the Night' is a more straight-up rocker, from whence the album gets its title, and is more fuzzy than most things they've released in a while. Next there's 'Baby Ate My Eightball' which isn't as good as its title, but still is pretty weird. Then aforementioned 'Suckers', the token Bunf-led song 'Battersea Odyssey' which isn't much cop, and finally closer 'Let the Wolves Howl at the Moon', which is, you've guessed it, slow and pretty.

After three listens, this isn't really a big departure from the trend of the last few albums, but I'm heartened that they've remembered to include something old-school sounding. I'll be listening a lot more in the coming weeks, and I'm sure it'll become as much of a friend as all the others.

I'm not putting up any of the album tracks, but you could go here for three from Glastonbury, or here for a full live set from 2002.


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