Super Furry Animals 

Phantom Power (Beggars/XL)

Each song on Super Furry Animals' 2001 triumph, Rings Around the World, was a game of stylistic connect-the-dots, exploding in a confetti shower of neo-psychedelic grooves, growling glam punk, electronica flares, and beach-blanket bounce. Phantom Power, the Welsh rockers' follow-up to Rings, isn't as immediately accessible or cohesive as those ribbons of rainbow-spun rock.

Nevertheless, Power's own Jekyll-and-Hyde modus operandi creates some brilliant moments. "The Piccolo Snare" begins with hushed harmonies reminiscent of the Mamas and the Papas before drifting into a sea of twinkling beats and synth drone; "Slow Life" is an industrial party crashed by Blur, techno robots, and a full orchestra. Even songs centering on one genre -- the fuzz-chugging power-pop gem "Golden Retriever," the starry-eyed piano ballad "Bleed Forever" -- demonstrate the Animals' impressive range.

Phantom Power's melting melodies and sound collages are gorgeous. But as a whole, the album's summery atmosphere feels like a fractured mirror-image of Rings -- a reflection that's slightly askew and not quite able to reproduce the transcendent emotions it so greatly desires.


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