Five of the best: Super Furry Animals

Jamie Bowman picks five of the best from one of the UK's most consistently brilliant singles bands as Super Furry Animals return this summer to a festival stage near you

Jamie Bowman

Last updated: 11th Apr 2016

Super Furry Animals' decision to reform in 2015 for their first shows in six years was a welcome relief for fans starved of the Welsh band's uniquely bonkers brand of psychedelia. 

Now 20 years on from the release of their debut album, Fuzzy Logic, Super Furry Animals are back on the festival circuit with headline shows at Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia, Lunar Festival and Festival No.6 this summer.

Fronted by the inimitable Gruff Rhys, the band have become a singles machine over the last two decades with hit after hit as well as nine albums. In 2000, they recorded Mwng, the first Welsh-language album to reach the top 20 of the UK abum charts

The band's back catalogue is a wonderful collection of gonzo glam rock, overt drug references, dogs, mullets and Marie Curie. Here's our pick of five of their best. 

Hometown Unicorn (1996)

The Super Furries' debut single was a perfect introduction to their surreal world and came as a welcome blast of lysergic weirdness after Britpop's booze-fueled antics. 

As first lines go, "I was lost, lost on the bypass road" takes some beating and the song goes on to tell the true story of French teenager Frankie Fontaine, who claimed to have been abducted by aliens in 1979. He reappeared a week later believing he had just passed out for a few minutes after glimpsing a succession of bright lights. You didn't get this sort of thing from Shed Seven

The Man Don't Give a Fuck (1996)

Written, according to Rhys, as a "protest song for our time", 'The Man Don't Give a Fuck', was based around a repeated sample taken from the Steely Dan song 'Show Biz Kids' and proudly repeated the word "fuck" over 50 times. In fact, the band released a live version of the track in 2004, in which the word was mentioned approximately 100 times, creating a new world record. Unsurprisingly, the song didn't get much airplay, but it has become a Super Furries classic and fan favourite.

The single's memorable packaging featured an iconic image of Cardiff City's bad boy footballer Robin Friday flicking a V-sign at Luton Town goalkeeper Milija Alecksic.

Fire in my Heart (1999)

While the band have become famous for their gonzoid, glammed up guitar raves up, the Super Furries are also capable of beautiful moments, such as this transcendent slice of folk gospel. Full of beautiful harmonies and the kind of timeless melody that makes it feel like a cover, only lyrics like, "oh the monkey puzzle tree has some questions for the watchdogs of the profane, and I ask, is it sad that I'm driving myself mad as this fire in my heart turns blue", probably stopped it from being the kind of song people performed on the X-Factor.  Perhaps. 

Juxtaposed With U (2001) 

One of Super Furries' finest 'pop' moments, 'Juxtaposed With U' was Rhys' attempt at replicating the smooth sound of Philadelphia soul crossed with Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder's 'Ebony and Ivory', and was written as a backlash against the laddish rock which dominated UK indie at the time. The singer had contacted RnB star Bobby Brown about a possible duet, but was rebuffed before East 17's Brian Harvey also turned the opportunity down. It was their loss as Rhys instead turned to a vocoder and duetted with himself on one of the band's biggest hits. 

Golden Retriever (2003) 

Possibly Super Furries' daftest moment (and there's plenty of competition), 'Golden Retriever' tells the story of the relationship between Rhys' girlfriend's two dogs, but is also strongly influenced by the Highway Code which the singer was studying at the time he wrote the song due to his forthcoming driving test. Mix in a Robert Johnson-style meeting with the devil at a roundabout and you've 2 mins 28 secs of pop genius. 

Super Furry Animals play at Lunar Festival and Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia - tickets available now

Like this? Read our interview with The Coral

 

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