Gruff Rhys Candylion

Few were inspired by the effort put forth by the Super Furry Animals in 2005. To put it bluntly, Love Kraft was the sound of a prosperous and innovative rock band losing their creative spark, which beforehand had always radiated in Technicolor. During this period, front-man Gruff Rhys was also doing his own thing on the side (as was electronics wizard Cian Ciarán with Acid Casuals), which may or may not have had a profound effect on SFA. His first album, Yr Atal Genhedlaeth, was a modest lo-fi experiment that toyed with many ideas that were developed into little more than what some could consider blueprints for his full-time band. Where that album left plenty of room for potential, Candylion has come back and filled that space with a charmingly personal collection of warm psychedelic bedroom pop. Released through Conor Oberst’s Team Love label, Rhys has taken measures to show this isn’t just some half-assed vanity project. On board are previous contributors in the SFA camp, Beastie Boys producer Mario Caldato Jr. and the High Llamas’ Sean O’Hagan, who adds warm accents with his arrangements. Mixing languages, as he usually does, Rhys doesn’t just limit his vocabulary to English and Welsh; on the atmospheric "Con Carino,” he softly tackles Spanish for one of the album’s standout moments. Meanwhile, he’s also not afraid to indulge in his far-reaching tastes, creating a mixed bag filled with jazz arrangements ("Now That the Feeling Has Gone”), a 14-minute opus ("Skylon!”) and a spooky Celtic ballad ("Lonesome Words”). While it’s not quite Rings Around the World, Candylion spotlights his songwriting prowess and gives hope that Rhys still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve to keep his fans ardent. (Team Love)