Super Furry Animals – Guerrilla album review

REVIEW: Super Furry Animals – Guerrilla album review

Guerrilla is Super Furry Animals third album originally released back in 1999. Fast forward 20 years and it now gets the anniversary treatment with a remastered double vinyl album including demos and session tracks released via BMG Fri 1 November 2019.

SFA always came across as a playful bunch, with chirpy lyrics and extravagant song arrangements, there were similarities to Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and Captain Beefheart amongst their workings, but with a fresh 90’s popular Welsh appeal. Lead singer/guitarist Gruff Rhys was faithfully accompanied by bassis Guto Pryce, guitarist Huw Bunford, drummer Dafydd Leuan and keyboard showman Cian Ciaran, the five piece were slightly different to any other band of the time, but without making a song and dance about it. They oozed cool.

Guerrilla was recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World studio. With their usual producer Gorwel Owen citing personal reasons not to join the band for this album the group made the daring decision to produce the album themselves. The aftermath is not to the scoffed at. A daring album full of delights, the result is not a throwaway brit-pop collection but a sturdy serenade of delights for whole family to dig.

The album starts with a low fi shuffle instrumental in a similar vein to The Stairs Mexican R’n’B intro instrumental. Within an instant this is forgotten about with a short sharp blast of Do Or Die, sounding like the prime Stooges mixed with Hey Ho-Let’s Go The Ramones, The Coral might have been listening to this tune when conjuring up recent hit Sweet Release such are the incidental similarities to each track.

There are further supreme cuts of Furry heaven with the heart wrenching Turning Tide, sounding like It’s Not The End Of The World’s distant cousin, the song has a similar chord sequence but nonetheless is made of its own popular gene, Scott Walker would have done well on conjure this sort of tune up. The single Northern Lites is a tropical bouncer. An infectious song lyrically serenading the power of El Nino climate system, but with the sort of charm that gave prominence to Orange Juice.

The Door To This House Remains Open flickers drum and bass patterns, Some Things Come From Nothing brings the punk back with a mixed bag including Chemical Brothers like beats, country music enters the ring on Fire In My Heart. Finally Chewing Chewing Gum brings a silky quality to the table with elements of 70’s sparkling rock aka, Roxy Music and Bowie. As you experience these different musical creatures it isn’t like being in the ring with Frank Bruno being battered senseless, rather the feeling is being in a fairground dodgem with Gruff at the controls as you exceedingly go round the circuit.

Elements of electro can also be found within this collection, the peak being Wherever I Lay My Phone (That’s My Home) displaying similar connotations to an old mobile phone ringtone when these were the shape of a brick, but with the backing of a full band instinctive intimism. With the addition of the demos, rough mixes and session tracks you can get a sense of the growth through time that lead the band to record this album as it sounds on record. Something 4 The Weekend? It is here in the form of Guerrilla!

Guerrilla can be purchased from the BMG website.