Super Furry Animals, 'Dark Days/Light Years' (Rough Trade)

Critical Mass
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by Mikael Wood

The quality of a Super Furry Animals record usually increases in proportion to its ebullience. So with an opener titled "Crazy Naked Girls," the Welsh psych-pop band's ninth studio disc initially appears to be a career-best candidate. In reality, Dark Days/Light Years is surprisingly subdued: Affecting a newly laid-back, yacht-rock delivery, frontman Gruff Rhys presides over streamlined arrangements that emphasize rhythmic repetition rather than the wild textures and sticky melodies of yore. Flashes of fun appear -- dig the glam-Sabbath stomp of "Inconvenience" -- but most of Dark could use more color.

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