Friday, December 19, 2008

Super Furry Animal's Classic, Mwng.

[ conjunction with the record breakers section of Ryan's Smashing Life]

Ryan recently asked me to write about a past album that was under-appreciated. The list is long, and SFA's 2000 'folk' album Mwng is right at the top.

I heard a story that when the Super Furry Animals came out with “Guerilla” in 1999, they were so annoyed that their label didn’t push it enough to rocket them to superstardom that they became cynical about the music business in its entirety, and decided to record their next release (and first free of their contract with Creation), “Mwng,” entirely in hardly radio-friendly Welsh.

I have no idea if this is true or not, of course. But if the label were guilty of failing to promote the absolutely stunning electronic majesty of “Guerilla,” and that did prompt this album, then I offer them my first born in thanks (just give me a couple of months to get one). “Mwng” is quite simply one of the most exquisitely beautiful folk-pop albums I have ever heard.

After the traditional (for this band) out of place opening blast which leaves you completely unprepared what will happen next, SFA make the pace softer and softer, until they reach the nadir of “Nythod Cacwn,” half way through the album. [Singer Gruff Rhys played the drums on this track himself – you can tell, and yet it is completely in keeping with the track’s incredibly fragility]. Then the album begins to ramp up again, until it hits tracks like "Ysbeidiau Heulog", which are carried by guitarist Bunf’s super heavy overdrive, mixed very low in the background, so they sound like both sick and gorgeous at one and the same time.

The real wonder of this album is perhaps attested by the fact that I have always felt that lyrics are the single most difficult thing to really get right in any musical project, although they are often the last to be considered. But this album shows me that I’m dead wrong. I have absolutely no idea that Gruff is talking about in this album. I’ve actually got the point where I’ve avoided researching this, because I really don’t want to be troubled with any actual meaning. Instead, I want tracks like "Gwreiddiau Dwfn" / "Mawrth Oer Ar y Blaned Neifion" to carry me off into the kind of mixed-up, dizzying, sweetly dark world that only SFA can deliver (and trust me, they leave the best for last). Consider this a call to arms – find this album at all costs and make the effort to work your way through it with the care it deserves. It. Will. Pay. You. Back.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I pull this one out about once a year and obsess over it. Thanks again--I hope I've thanked you before--for getting me into SFA and especially Mwng.