Friday, 18 March 2011

Mini Review: Gruff Rhys - Hotel Shampoo

Compared to Gruff Rhys’ best known work with the Super Furry Animals, his latest solo album Hotel Shampoo offers little more than a condensed attempt of the material he was recording 10+ years ago. SFA drew from many wide-ranging genres, being both unique and distinctive in their sound.  On the other hand, they were one of the definitive cult bands of their time, making it difficult for Rhys to be able to achieve a separate, solo-focused sound, which he has managed to pursue here. There’s definitely nothing of the tenacity of "The Man Don’t Give a Fuck" here, but all is forgotten when compared to the beauty of tracks such as the superb trumpet-assisted "Take a Sentence", and the Sinatran duet with El Perro Del Mar entitled "Space Dust #2". 50’s and 60’s pop seems to prevail on much of this album, particularly in the saxophone of "Christopher Columbus", the squawking guitar featured on "Patterns of Power", or the Beatlesque piano lines and strings of "At the Heart of Love". The sense of scope and endless possibilities the Super Furry Animals conjured up remain in Rhys’ work, regardless of the substantially diminished electronics (though not entirely removed, think Gorillaz meets She & Him and you’re not a million miles off). A few tracks don’t quite find their place for me, namely "Sophie Softly" and "If We Were Words (We Would Rhyme)", which seem to be a little too meandering, though they’re easy enough to forgive, especially as now we have two great pop albums in the same number of days on our hands. If the colours of the bottles on the album cover appeal to you more than the grey, overcast sight of the Wounded Rhymes artwork, you ought to be looking here.

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