Gruff Rhys: Head and shoulders above the rest?


By Keith Shackleton

Gruff Rhys is prolific. An electro-pop dalliance with Boom Bip (as Neon Neon), the jaw-dropping “Terror Of Cosmic Loneliness” collaboration with unorthodox Brazilian artist Tony Da Gatorra and a guest spot on Gorillaz’ Superfast Jellyfish (with De La Soul) all come from left field. The Super Furry Animals man’s new release “Hotel Shampoo,” however,  is cut from the same cloth as his sophomore solo album “Candylion”:  to wit, gentle psych-pop with sweet melody and intricate arrangements.

But there’s a twist in the tale. Touring for the last 15 or so years has allowed Rhys to add extensively to a rather odd collection of souvenirs and baggage, culminating in an art installation constructed for the album in which our hero has spent the night and which includes, you guessed it, a minor mountain of bottles of hotel shampoo. The memories associated with the stolen artifacts prompted song titles and snatches of lyrics, but let’s separate the concept from the music. “Hotel Shampoo” is a beautifully balanced record: quirky and whimsical, but substantial.  The art doesn’t get in the way of having a good time.

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Photo by Mark James

||| Watch: After the jump, check out the video for “Sensations in the Dark”:

Keith Shackleton is an occasional contributor to Buzz Bands who is stationed in Auckland, New Zealand and blogs at The Riverboat Captain.