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Hey Venus! by Super Furry Animals Review
Posted: 12/10/07 by Craig "novacane" Reeves | Comments (10)

Setting sail from the shores of Monsterism Island, the odd-pop Princes of Wales return with vintage booty on their ethereal eighth spawn. The curious cosmic creations of long time artwork collaborator Pete Fowler gather round them no longer as the vivid sleeve design of Keiichi Tanaami makes an intruding first impression and suggests, aesthetically at least, that there may be a change of course afoot. This subplot to a watershed should also mention that Hey Venus! represents the first group outing since departure from Sony into the warmer, reassuringly coarser bosom of Rough Trade.

On closer inspection, Tanaami’s unearthly cover art is not so far removed from that of Fowler, ‘Renaissance Monsterism’ perhaps. Nor does the first album to not bear the Fowler brand since 1995 debut Fuzzy Logic herald any new genesis. In fact here, we retrace some familiar steps, those first negotiated on elements of said debut but perhaps moreso on Radiator, its rounder, more accomplished follow-up. Themes such as the extraterrestrial and anti-consumerism persist, but on Hey Venus! we see an about turn from the decadently lush epics of predecessor Love Kraft, and a return to that neo-pop epoch.


Self proclaiming “numero uno sing alongThe Gateway Song opens the floodgates and provides a very literal three quarter minute glam-rock introduction to forthcoming single Run-Away. Following Rhys’ frank/prank spoken preview (“This is a song based on a true story. Which would be fine, if it wasn’t autobiographical”) a rolling failed relationship retrospective is unfurled, offering sentimental sojourns at despondency, cowardice and regret. Previous chart dodger, the disappointingly anthemic Show Your Hand lounges more comfortably within the context of a long player and completes a jaunty if slightly conventional opening.


At Venus’ stern sit guitarist Huw Bunford's ode to a power station, the aimlessly trippy Battersea Odyssey, and the forgettably meek Let the Wolves Howl at the Moon which evokes the less inspiring moments of Phantom Power. It is between these poles where the gold really lies. Two-minute wonder Neo-Consumer might soon be exposed as the bastard child of My Sharona and Furries live favourite Calimero, and the devil delivers some much needed demon. The turbulent and tumultuous Into The Night is the most evident survivor of the half-abandoned ‘Venus as a Girl’ concept album, while on Suckers!, Rhys turns his casual sniper upon nuclear scientists, stadium rock, tennis players and ultimately himself. But Venus reaches her voluptuous crest with the brain bending vocal pile-up Baby Ate My Eightball and the spaced-out shimmer of Cian Ciaran composition Carbon Dating.


That the sound receptors can still be so aroused by both songcraft and soundplay is the mark of a band contented but rarely complacent. While less travelled seamen seem content to ride on the doomed ship of short lived premise, the Super Furry Animals continue to soundtrack an ever enchanting voyage via the sublime, the ridiculous, the surreal and all too real. Hey Venus! might be akin to a cruise by their standards but it’s always a pleasure to be aboard. Strange lands ahoy.

   
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