Powerful early 1970s-inspired production
Folk-inspired rock is a gem that rarely grows old. Gruff Rhys, lead singer of Super Furry Animals certainly takes the joyfulness of the genre and elevates in cinematic artistry. In his latest album, he creates glowing soundscapes with bright production and a cohesive blend of folk-rock. Its lyricism acts as a glue that binds it together. With an easy listening feel, Seeking New Gods is an album that is laser-focused on its desired sound. Every moment seems as if transportive to early 1970s rock, something that might not be welcome to some but certainly embraced by fans of that era and its sound.
The opening track, “Mausoleum of My Former Self,” introduces listeners to a warm, percussion-heavy melody. While many different elements are combined in the chorus and bridge, these elements never seem jumbled. Instead, interjections of various instruments are welcome additions, enhancing and propelling the song forward. However, it is the brass instruments sandwiched between the chorus and verse that are perhaps the most poignant element. The vocal harmonies in tandem with the brass are nothing short of fascinating, creating a riff that is unique and undeniably catchy.
“Loan Your Loneliness,” by contrast, has a narrative component that gets further lost in the jumbles of the instrumentals. As if the instrumentals drown out the descriptions of loneliness, there is an inherent paradox. This leads to a well-deserved payoff at the end of the track, with an instrumental breakdown of the melody. Distorted synthesizer plays over it like a lingering idea, creating a joyful mishmash of admirably complex rhythms.
Suddenly, the kinetic energy of these tracks is slowed by the track “Seeking New Gods.” Just by listening, it is no surprise this song was the one that Gruff Rhys saw defined the album. Simultaneously brooding and sunny, the production does not lose its footing by expanding its sound. Loosely derivative choruses are reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac, with its harmonies largely defining its songs. Perhaps the greatest showcase of the band’s talents is within this laid-back sound, as it truly makes one relish the songwriting expertise present.
Later tracks such as “Everlasting Joy” have darker undertones, with its driving beat being replaced with a kick drum. This makes it seem much heavier to the ears than the earlier works. Even so, it does not seem out of place. Perhaps one of the most ingenious works of the album is the inversions taking place, with its tracks often being antithetical to their sound. The production in this song is particularly immersive. With almost hypnotic choruses, the listener is entranced with the faux hope of joy, just as the singer bemoans. Truly, it is powerful to listen to.
The album concludes with a mournful track. “Distant Snowy Packs” has a sequence that underlines the lyrics. Reminding one of the repetitive motions of climbing upward, the sound is truly a beautiful expansion of how the album is perceived. While the nostalgic elements are still there, the newer influences of folk-rock come to the fore at its conclusion. Reverb is used to show the desire of trying to find happiness, even when it seems distant. This more mature understanding of happiness seems rewarding, ending Seeking New Gods on a bittersweet note.