Aliens. Environmental disaster. People out to get you. Sources of material for the concept album – an idea which on the surface is more than a little self-limiting given our dystopian times – have tended to stay largely pooled within certain boundaries, perhaps showing less imagination rather than more in their creators.
Not for (Former?) Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys though, whose solo career is threatening now to be active longer than the recorded one of his old band. After projects dealing with amongst others John DeLorean, the Welshman has now moved on to using about objects more immovable in the guise of Mount Paektu, an active Korean volcano and supposedly the cradle of it’s four thousand year old society.
Nobody else either. But Rhys’ work thankfully always demands fair scrutiny and perhaps as expected, he wriggles out of any philosophical traps with ease, largely because Seeking New Gods is sporadically informed by the MOR gloss of Steely Dan and a clutch of other sleek yacht rockers. At it’s erm, heights – Loan Your Loneliness, the gloriously incongruous post-punk of Hiking In Lightning and the bloody lovely ballad Can’t Carry On – there’s a bittersweet undertow which leaves the listener pondering that this record really isn’t concerned with a mountain at all, but the man singing about it.
Thinking laterally, many records though are essentially concept albums about the writer, dressed up as something else. Not many released this year will be as intriguing as Seeking New Gods though, unless you think it needs more aliens.
You can read a full review here.