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Super Furry Animals: Love Kraft (Album Review)

The sound of guitarist Huw Bunford diving into a swimming pool is the first thing you hear on the Super Furry Animals’ incredibly laid-back seventh album, Love Kraft. Recorded in Spain and completed in Rio de Janeiro, Love Kraft is unhurried, smooth and easy on the ears. Opener “Zoom!” does just the opposite of its titular promise, transmitting space-junk frequencies over stoned grinner melodies. The loose and shambolic sing-along stomp of “The Horn” works in some fibrous harmonica and hammered dulcimer, but it’s more Gomez-style harmless trippy blues than Exile on Main Street-period Rolling Stones lethal indulgences. The closest the band gets to the zany inventiveness of Radiator-era Furries is “Psyclone!,” a rumbling, hilarious declaration of extinction that opens with a Woody Guthrie-worthy send-up: “Pterodactyl, brontosaurus, tyrannosaurus gather ’round…” Overly synthesized tracks like the flow-busting “Lazer Beam” and the fuzzy “Frequency” detract from the weenie-roast beach-chill vibe. Notably, Love Kraft is the first Furries album to feature the writing and singing of all band members, which means less frontman Gruff Rhys and presumably more variety. But aside from the noted exceptions, Love Kraft is a solidly unified-sounding work: No political rants or social observations, and, regrettably, no Welsh-language detours. Just the Furries kicking it in warmer climes and putting aside deeper concerns for the time being. Perhaps On Vacation would have been a more apt title.