In a perfect world, where Super Furry Animals is the house band, middle school students would be required to learn Welsh and young men and women would be encouraged to take it easy. Don’t worry about a job just yet, kiddo. Grab a beer and settle back; there’ll be time for work later. At least, that’s the feeling Super Furry Animals’ seventh album, Love Kraft, exudes in buckets.
The monotonous splash that begins the album — before a note of music is even played — instantly sets the tone. The culprit is guitarist Huw Bunford diving into a swimming pool in Spain, where the band recorded Love Kraft with Mario Caldato Jr., the man known for his work with the Beastie Boys (remember "Mario C likes to keep it clean" from "Intergalactic"?) and for his time behind the boards for Super Furry Animals’ 2003 effort, Phantom Power.
Caldato’s knob-twiddling this time around serves in aiding a hazy, relaxing vibe throughout. Light horns and strings pepper the songs, with less electronic weirdness. What could have easily ended up as a boring, stale record — the sound of a band getting ready for 401(k) land — is instead the peaceful sound of a goofy band being a little less silly. But these five musical veterans haven’t lost their sense of humor.
On lead single and opener, "Zoom," singer Gruff Rhys sings "kiss me with apocalypse." (If that gem doesn’t click at first, try saying it out loud.) The line is one of the few instances where the album comes close to the realms of the bubble-gum-coated death and destruction of Phantom Power. From the record’s sound, to its title, to the democratically split songwriting (Love Kraft is the first Super Furry Animals album to include songwriting contribution and vocal duties by almost every member of the band), it’s clear that this time out, the Furries are focusing more on making great pop and less on popping the world’s myriad blemishes. "Lazer Beam" could’ve easily have been about weapons and war but opts instead to preemptively strike with guitar riffs and vocal hooks.
What else would happen on this hypothetical planet? Barflies would swarm around the sweet, honeyed sound of "The Horn," its chorus ("Go, go with the flow/ Na na na na na na") providing the perfect opportunity for chummy, drunken sing-alongs. Television commercials (assuming they hadn’t been eliminated altogether) would be soundtrack by the giddy, instrumental "Oi Frango," its bouncy effervescence serving as the perfect background music. It would be great, even if the sound of "Cabin Fever" would make people standing in line at the bank say, "This song sure feels like it’s been playing forever."
But therein lies the truth. Just as this album certainly is not perfect, neither is this rock we live on. But while listening to Love Kraft, it’s easy to forget about responsibility and instead relaxingly fantasize about a world where a simple melody can cure any ill.