Secret ideologies

TBy Keri Carlson The Super Furry Animals are dangerous. With most politically fueled bands angered by the status quo, the message is direct and you know what to expect – no one would accuse the Sex Pistols of ambiguity. The Super Furry Animals, though, are sneaky. They slip their messages in covertly, only to have them unexpectedly surface.

Reading the lyrics to “Phantom Power,” the band’s sixth full-length album, it is obvious that they are discontent with post-Sept. 11, 2001, events and the Bush administration (“You know we’re digging to hell / Drowning in our oil wells”). But the Super Furry Animals mask their anger by assembling all the tricks that make for great pop: woo-woos and sha-la-las, waa-waa guitar effects, 1960s surf harmonies, chimes and Burt Bacharach-like string arrangements. When listening to the band, their lushly layered, “Pet Sounds”-influenced pop only generates an image of a warm day full of flowers and rainbows. “Phantom Power” begins with “Hello Sunshine,” a song that invites you to forget your troubles and be at ease.

“Sunshine” stays within the path paved by previous Super Furry Animals records. It’s easy to get comfortable and start humming along to the catchy melodies and assume the song is about that old pop shibboleth, love. It takes a while to realize you are actually singing “Have you ever seen the sea painted red by a bleeding army.”

With “Phantom Power,” the band continues to combine their influences into a whole, resulting in a smoother record. Crucially, the Super Furry Animals have not lost their unique song-writing abilities. Lyrics full of humor, grit, wishfulness and sorrow abound. These lyrics are not as infectious or memorable as those on past albums, but the Super Furry Animals do manage to glide their slick pop right into your brain without you even realizing it.

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