Super Furry Animals - Outspaced
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Super Furry Animals
Outspaced

Although they dabbled with a bit more of an electronic music sound on their Guerilla release, the Super Furry Animals aren't really a whole lot different than a lot of bands out there in terms of musical sound. Sure, they may be a bit wackier or throw in just a bit more experimentation than others out there, but for the most part they're straight ahead go go go. Their charm seems to lay more within the seeming wild glee that they play their music. I realize it's something thats hard to feel on a studio recording, and not all their tracks are off-the-rocker upbeat, but I'm not sure if it's just the semi-strangeness of Gruff Rhys voice or something else, because this group has me hooked on their sound.

Of course, maybe the simple explanation is that they're Welsh and they simply won't allow themselves to be lumped in with the other glut of British rock, so they insist on doing things differently. If that's the case, it's a good move, because it ends up working quite well most of the time, and even the times that it doesn't hit on all cylinders, the group is still doing better than most. While Mwng was a hodge-podge of all Welsh language tracks written over the course of several years, Outspaced is somewhat similar, although it gives an even better idea of the different things that the group has tried with their sound. Not only is the long release (13 songs and well over an hour of music) comprised of B-sides and rarities, but the group pulls out Welsh language tracks about one-third of the time and again it doesn't really matter what language they're singing in.

Things start out with a blast of misleading noise on "The Man Don't Give A Fuck," but soon it calms down into a quite, ambient acoustic track. Even that doesn't last too long, though, before the group launches back into the guts of a rolicking, rocking sing-along. That track then mixes straight into the (nearly) instrumental "Dim Brys Dim Chwys" that drifts along with only some watery-sounding guitars, a simple drum machine beat, and swirling keyboards. It's quiet and pretty, and a definite change from the piss off opener. While it would probably become a hugh anthem if it were heard by the masses, "Smokin" is one track that's simply too overt and predictible to be as successful (despite a bit of trippy goodness).

"Arnofido/Glo In The Dark" is another spaced-out track that works well with lots of squiggley electronic sounds and drifting layered vocals before it explodes into a full-on rockin track. The quiet/loud dynamic is milked a couple different times, but it works. "Focus Pocus/Debiel" starts out as a static filled, stomping track, but even it drops off for a quiet ending. Both of the tracks are sort of like two-for-ones and the group works an excellent changup of sound on each one. Overall, the album shows the group playing with a lot of different sounds and although they're not quite as refined as in some of their later, more polished releases, they definitely shine on most of the tracks

The one problem with this release (if you live in the United States anyway) is that it's only available on import, so you're going to have to be pretty sure that you like the group if you want to plop down the money for it (there's even a limited version that comes in a weird hard rubber cover with a half-circle shaped insert and a gold-colored CD). While it's not quite as good as the excellent Guerilla release, it's definitely more varied and fun than their newest disc Mwng. If you're a big fan, you definitely won't go wrong, but if you're just getting into the group, check out one of the above or Radiator first.

rating: 810
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00