Top 5 Biggest Letdown Albums: #4

this is the second installment of my countdown of my top 5 biggest letdown albums

4. Super Furry Animals – “Rings Around the World”

I remember picking up Fuzzy Logic, the first Super Furry Animals album released in America, and falling instantly in love with the noisy, melodic, crazy, distorted, abstracted, beautiful pop music. It was an album that you could listen to and feel like you knew just how much fun the band was having as they created it. Radiator, while slightly darker, maintained that exciting sense of sonic freedom and only improved on the debut.

I remember reading the NME’s list of the best nu-psychedelic albums and seeing Radiator receive such glowing praise. I felt like I must have accidentally really tapped into something special. The Ice Hockey Hair EP was probably my favorite release of 1998, and I ordered that rubber-packaged b-sides collection from the UK because I just had to have it all and I couldn’t stop listening to it and loving it. It even rubbed off on my sister, who picked up the US release of Radiator when it came out here in 1999 (packaged with the b-sides collection as a bonus disc).

Much like the situation I told of with Suede yesterday, I was a music director at KRNU when Guerilla was scheduled to come out in the summer of 1999. I’d pre-ordered my copy from the UK because it was supposed to come out a month or so earlier there and I didn’t want to wait. It took me a little longer to get into Guerilla than it had taken with the previous albums, but once it grew on me, it was right up there with the rest.

I just really admired the band and how passionate and energetic they were about their creations. I remember reading an interview with Gruff Rhys, where he said something along the lines of “I’d much rather have a one-track studio and a 48-track mind than a 48-track studio and a one-track mind.” As a wannabe-rockstar in those days, I was very inspired by those words – doing my best to get some good out of my two-track Tascam portastudio.

Even though their 2000 album Mwng was all in Welsh, I still had the same amount of anticipation and satisfaction. It wasn’t until 2002 that they lost me.

I’m not sure what it was about Rings Around the World, because like any good album that you don’t like, I don’t remember much about it anymore. The lingering sense that I still have, though, was that the excitement and energy felt forced. Falsetto singalongs and noisy whines felt like superficial masks for deeper faults rather than another guest at the musical party.

The album annoyed me, but I should have been careful what I wished for, because it was the last time they demonstrated that frenzied songwriting – contrived or not. Subsequent albums have been downers. They’ve had nice songs – I did even go out and buy Phantom Power – but they just don’t feel as special and unique as early SFA material. There’s still some beauty, but the fun is gone.

3 Responses to “Top 5 Biggest Letdown Albums: #4”

  1. University Update - UN Studio - Top 5 Biggest Letdown Albums: #4 Says:

    […] the Webmaster Top 5 Biggest Letdown Albums: #4 » This Summary is from an article posted at on Sunday, August 26, 2007 this is […]

  2. robj Says:

    i kinda felt the same when it came out and for a few years after but now its been out for a while and perhaps because i’m a bit older i cant help but see the genius in rings around the world. the production is second to none and musically it doesnt dissapoint in any area. While pop genius is covered by gems like ‘Juxtaposed with you’ and the title track, sfa’s eccentricities (sp?) are brought back up to date with the genre straddling ‘Receptacle for the respectable’ and speaker shattering end to ‘No sympathy’. Balladry is presented in the beautiful form of ‘Its not the end of the world’ and the all important ‘political comment’ appears on ‘Run christian run’

    Time for another listen maybe?

  3. neal Says:

    As far as production being “second to none,” I would consider it “overproduced.”

    But when it comes to giving it another chance, I’m giving all five of these albums more listens as a result of this series. Maybe I’ll post an update later on if anything comes of it.

    Thanks for stopping by.

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