Hey! Venus – Super Furry Animals

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Is it jumping the gun declaring an album the album of the year when it’s coming out in the third week of January? Hell, Hey! Venus may be the album of 2007 because it came out then on vinyl. Super Furry Animals singer Gruff Rhys has called this record “speaker blowing.” You could easily replace “speaker” with “mind.” Myself, I was straight-up lost in the Phil Spectorish wall of fuzz fun on Hey! Venus.

11 years and eight albums have seen SFA touching on the concepts of retro-rock, psychedelia, groove, honky-tonk, soul and strings before, but never packaged into a unitary sonic gift. Sure, other bands dabble in one or two genres, but dammit if SFA haven't perfected them all with their signature twinge of self-admonishment and humor. Case in point: “Baby Ate My Eightball” and “Neo Consumer”.

But there is one tune here that will seduce you, never to release its grasp from your audio receptors: “Into the Night”. I believe it is called “Fuzz Seduction” in numerous medical volumes. Drums and bongos make the shoulders bop, six-string fusion sends eyes fluttering. Like much of the album, this is a great track because it managed to gush with static without losing its soul.

And the whole album flows. Each three-minute pop track matures into the next, but without breaking the chain of continuity and quality. You'll find proficient staccato measures akin to The New Pornographers. SFA is not a jam band; each song here has been masterfully designed and crafted.

Okay, maybe it's not album of the year, but it is the best soulrocgrovstridelia record I've heard to end '07 and begin '08. Let it be written, I have become a Furry, and not in the sexual sense.