Gruff Rhys – Candylion

Gruff Rhys - CandylionGruff Rhys – Candylion (Team Love Records)
By Eric Rottmayer

I would never claim to be a Super Furry Animals fan. In fact, you might say that I passed quick judgement on the Welsh superstars after only hearing a couple of songs here and there. Unfortunately, I missed out on an obvious diamond in the super furry rough, lead-singer and songwriter Gruff Rhys. I even remember hearing his unforgettable name a few years back when he released his first solo album, Yr Atal Genhedlaeth, but his music still flew far above my head. So a few months ago I was randomly watching music videos on YouTube, as we all do, and I came across the song and video for “Candylion”, the title track and single from Rhys’ most recent solo effort.

I was instantly smitten with the childlike storybook feel of the music & lyrics, about a timekeeping lion in the kingdom of candy, told by Gruff in a speak/sing manner with light violin arrangements, dual bass/acoustic guitars and a crispy, upbeat-drum-loop-that-maybe-isn’t-a-loop…and Lisa Jen (from 9bach) lending soothing backing vocals and glockenspiel. The video takes it to another level with Rhys and Jen sitting side-by-side, news anchor style, cutting and pasting little animals, flowers and fruit out of construction paper – it just fits the song perfectly.

Now finally hearing the official album, the title track comes off as an anomaly; non-representational of the rest of the album. There are some other great songs included; “Lonesome Words” sounds like an out-take from Mutations by Beck with an Ennio Morricone dusty vibe while “Cycle Of Violence” owes a partial debt to The Jesus And Mary Chain’s Psychocandy and the horror of the “War On Terror”. “Gyrru Gyrru Gyrru” is literally a driving song (the title translates to “Driving Driving Driving”) with Brazilian percussion and a repeating, hypnotic chorus. None of the songs are out of place, I guess I was just expecting more of what I liked about the single. Overall it’s very ambitious, rhythmic and sometimes dark, “Candylion”, the song, is still my favorite combination.

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