Album Review: Gruff Rhys – In Search of New Gods

Album Review: Gruff Rhys - In Search of New Gods

Powerful production inspired by the early 1970s

Folk-inspired rock is a gem that rarely ages. Gruff Rhys, lead singer of Super Furry Animals, certainly takes the joy of the genre and elevates cinematic art. In his latest album he creates vivid soundscapes with luminous output and a cohesive mix of folk-rock. His lyricism acts like a glue that binds him. With a feeling of easy listening, In search of new gods is a laser focused album on the desired sound. Every moment seems to be transporting 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”, presents listeners with a warm, percussive melody. While many different elements are combined in the choir and the bridge, these elements never seem to be mixed together. Instead, interjections from various instruments are welcome additions, enhancing and propelling the song forward. However, it is the brass sandwiched between the chorus and the verse that is perhaps the most poignant element. The vocal harmonies in tandem with the brass are simply fascinating, creating a unique and undeniably catchy riff.

“Loan Your Loneliness”, on the other hand, has a narrative component that gets lost even more in the clutter of the instrumentals. As if the instrumental stifles descriptions of loneliness, there is an inherent paradox. This leads to a well-deserved gain at the end of the song, with an instrumental breakdown of the melody. A distorted synthesizer plays on it like a lingering idea, creating a joyful mishmash of beautifully complex rhythms.

Suddenly, the kinetic energy of these songs is slowed down by the song “Seeking New Gods”. Just listening to it, it’s no surprise that this song is the one Gruff Rhys saw define the album. Both gloomy and sunny, the production does not lose its footing by expanding its sound. The loosely derived choruses are reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac, with its harmonies largely defining its songs. Perhaps the biggest showcase of the band’s talent is in this laid-back sound, as it really does appreciate the songwriting expertise present.

Later tracks such as “Everlasting Joy” have darker undertones, its catchy beat being replaced by a bass drum. This makes it much heavier on the ears than the previous works. Even so, it doesn’t seem out of place. Perhaps one of the most ingenious works on the album is the reversals that take place, its tracks often being antithetical to their sound. The production of this song is particularly immersive. With almost hypnotic refrains, the listener is bewitched by the false hope of joy, just as the singer laments. Really, it’s powerful to listen to.

The album ends with a dismal track. “Distant Snowy Packs” has a sequence that emphasizes the lyrics. Reminiscent of one of the repetitive movements of the ascension, the sound is really a nice extension of how the album is perceived. While the nostalgic elements are still there, the new influences of folk-rock take over at its conclusion. Reverb is used to show the desire to try and find happiness, even when it seems far away. This more mature understanding of happiness seems gratifying, ending In search of new gods on a bittersweet note.


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