2011: 15 of the Best. #5…

December 12, 2011

05. Gruff Rhys – Sensations in the Dark

From: Hotel Shampoo
Released: February 14, 2011
Label: Ovni/Wichita
Buy it: Here.

I freely admit I didn’t find much to like in the Super Furry Animals’ 2009 LP, Dark Days/Light Years. I must be the only one, because I know it was one of the best reviewed albums of that year. I dunno, to me it just seemed like a lot of big noise you had to dig through to find those lovely hooks that are always liberally scattered around their albums. At this point, SFA have gained a well-deserved reputation as masters of their form, so they can probably release bad albums and still have residual acclaim blanketing them for years. Still, it kind of disheartened me that for the first time I’d walked away from an album by an always-consistent band that I felt had, on the whole, let me down (see also: Spoon’s Transference). Fortunately, Gruff pulled me right back on board this year with his solo album Hotel Shampoo, which I actually rate alongside my favorite SFA album, Rings Around the World. It’s not anywhere near a Super Furries work in terms of scope, but the little vignettes are well-played and exquisitely written. “Sensations in the Dark” is the song that pulled me in and I’m a sucker for the mariachi-horn breakdown each and every time, but tomorrow I’ll argue for “If We Were Words (We Would Rhyme)” as my favorite. The day after that it will be “Shark Ridden Waters.” The day after that it will be “At the Heart of Love.” And then “Sensations in the Dark” will come on again and I’ll have a boogie and exclaim to anyone within earshot: “HOW GREAT IS THIS?!”

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