SUPER FURRY ANIMALS
"We'd rather listen to techno than the Kinks," Super Furry Animals guitarist Gruff Rhys recently told the music magazine Flaunt. In fact, throughout the Welsh combo's press kit, Rhys takes every opportunity to distance himself from the exhausted Britpop scene, criticizing its rock traditionalism and inherent nationalism. But the proof's in the pudding--Radiator (1997), the band's excellent second album, rolls out more gigantic David Bowie choruses than the Velvet Goldmine sound track. The band's new release, Guerrilla (Flydaddy), isn't quite as inspired melodically, but in sharp contrast to Blur's vacuous 13, it does prove that modern sounds can be smoothly integrated into dynamic British pop tunes. "Do or Die," the tight little rave-up that gets the record going, pairs a fat guitar riff with oscillating keyboard and crisp power chords with chirping synthesizer. The calypso-flavored "Northern Lites" mixes Latin horns with spidery electric guitar, recalling the more exotic tunes on XTC's English Settlement. And the record's jaunty finale, "Keep the Cosmic Trigger Happy," is interrupted by a bizarre jag of drum 'n' bass before returning to the music hall where it began. Rhys also likes to think of Super Furry Animals as a political band--Marxist even--though most of their lyrics read more like Jabberwocky than The Communist Manifesto. The apocalyptic early single "The Man Don't Give a Fuck" brought the house down when they made their Chicago debut at Lounge Ax earlier this year; I guess carping about "the man" qualifies as some sort of political statement, but mostly it reminds me of those cranky, fist-shaking Preservation albums the Kinks recorded in the early 70s. Some traditions never die. Saturday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 773-525-6620. J.R. Jones
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Vincent McDonald.