Yes, this really is the art for the new Super Furry Animals album, Hey Venus!, due out August 27 on Rough Trade. For those used to the awesome Pete Fowler artwork that has graced every SFA (and Gruff Rhys) release till now, the initial reaction is probably "this is kind of horrible."
But the man behind Hey Venus' in-your-face look is graphic designer Keiichi Tanaami distinctive imagery helped shaped the look of the psychedelic '60s. (Jonathan Woss did a weverent piece on him that you can watch on YouTube wight now.) I must admit I prefer Fowler, but it's obvious Tanaami was an influence on him.
Though you might think with sleeve like this it might be a return to the wild freakouts of SFA's past but Hey Venus! is fairly mellow, though much more focused than Love Kraft. And at 36 minutes, it's the shortest SFA album ever. Gruff seems to have grabbed back the majority of the songwriting reins this time, singing lead on every songs except the Bunf-led "Battersea Odyssey."
This is a good thing, I think. For the first time since Mwng, it sounds like an album made by a band in the studio. Gruff is saying that it's a loose concept album, centered around a girl named Venus, "moving from a small town to a big metropolis and following her adventures. Some songs link up to that story more than others, but some were left off the record, they'll be on the next one, which we're working on already. It started off as a concept, but then we chose songs for their merit rather than their themes."
The gentle "Show Your Hand" will be the first single, out August 13 in the UK. But I prefer "Neo Consumer" which almost sounds like it could have been on Fuzzy Logic:
So with many songs for the next record already done, Rhys still has other irons in the fire. There's Neon Neon, his colaboration with DJ/producer Boom Bip, as well as his great solo album, Candylion, that was released earlier this year which he'll be playing some U.S. dates in support of in September, which are as follows:
9.19 Philadelphia, Johnny Brendas
9.20 Washington, DC, Rock N Roll Hotel
9.21 New York City, Hiro Ballroom
9,22 Brooklyn, Union Hall
9.23 Boston, Museum of Fine Arts
9.25 Toronto,ONT, Rivoli
9.27 Chicago, Schuba's
9.29 Seattle, Crocodile Café
9.30 Portland, Doug Fir Lounge
10.02 San Francisco, Swedish American Hall
10.03 LA, Rec Center Studios
And if that's not enough, bassist Guto Pryce has cherry-picked his favorite reggae cuts from the Trojan archives for Furry Selection, a compilation well worth picking up.