Some people are built to do certain things. Muhammad Ali slipped punches. Richard Pryor cracked jokes, and Bill Clinton fucks. It's what they do. The Super Furry Animals? Well, they're built to make pop music.
Now wait a minute, you say, the Beatles were built to make pop music. You'd say that and you'd be right. But dammit, just because some people are designed for things, doesn't mean they're the best at it.
Which is not to say that the Furries aren't good—on the contrary, they're damn good. And they have been for 15 years. How many bands performing today have been doing so for that long without falling off? Not many. Perhaps the sweetest part about the Furries and their beautifully layered, bubbling, tongue-in-cheek pop sound is how much they're enjoying themselves. The Welsh band writes and tours relentlessly, and though the albums contain moments of venom and melancholy, a light-hearted, airy humor always prevails.
The Furries' most recent offering, Hey Venus!, is no exception: Eleven tracks of pristine, glittering pop, colored by horns, strings, bells, and more. Rather than re-inventing themselves every few years—as many bands of matching longevity do—the Furries evolve. They add more layers, become greater craftsmen, and they do it somewhat slowly.
The evolution and width of their offerings outside of—or rather, alongside—their sound, however, has moved at a much faster clip. For years the Furries have offered their fans much more than just another 13 songs every few years. There are complete DVD albums with matching videos and all kinds of bells and whistles. Live, the Furries take it even further.
During their most recent Portland performance at the Wonder Ballroom, the Welshmen brought costumes, set pieces, remarkable sound, and a killer, psychedelic video production.
And while it's difficult to say what extras the band is bringing along this go-around, fans can help the band choose the night's set. No joke—voting is open on their website. How's that for the evolution of accessibility?