Dark Days/Light Years

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Dark Days/Light Years
Studio album by Super Furry Animals
Released 16 March 2009
Recorded 2007–2009, Faster Recording Studio, Cardiff
Genre Alternative rock, experimental rock
Length 60:02
Label Rough Trade
Producer Chris Shaw, Super Furry Animals
Super Furry Animals chronology
Hey Venus!
(2007)
Dark Days/Light Years
(2009)
Alternative cover art
Vinyl cover art

Dark Days/Light Years, the ninth studio album by Super Furry Animals, was digitally released at 8pm on 16 March 2009 via the band's own website (www.superfurry.com) with a physical release following on the 21st of April on Rough Trade Records.[1] The album's title is taken from a lyric in the song "Moped Eyes" ("dark days seem light years away").

Many of the songs on the album are based around riffs and grooves the band have been working on for several years and features only one slow song which "isn't slow at all". The statement went on to claim that the saxophone and lap steel guitar have been consigned to the "banned instrument directive of the SFA board" with drummer Dafydd Ieuan apparently developing a phobia of the latter.".[1] The band originally planned to record the album in Miraval, France like their previous effort Hey Venus!, but decided to record in Cardiff with a considerably lower budget than previous efforts.

The completion of the album was documented by a series of 22 short films that were shown on the Super Furry Animals website, with one film added each day leading up to its original digital release. The videos were inspired by the Mike Figgis film Timecode and were described by The Guardian as "at once enormously dull, pleasingly insightful and curiously compelling."[2][3]

Longtime sleeve designer Pete Fowler collaborated with Hey Venus! artist Keiichi Tanaami to produce the album's artwork.[1] According to Rhys Tanaami wanted to work with the band having seen Fowler's previous Super Furry Animals record sleeves.[4] The track "Inaugural Trams" includes spoken word German vocals by Franz Ferdinand's Nick McCarthy.[5] The band broadcast a live show on their own website (superfurry.com) featuring songs from the album on the day of its digital release, which proved a success despite initial technical glitches.[6] They didn't tour the album in a conventional manner, gigging infrequently.[7]

The 12" vinyl release features different artwork from the CD version, and also has a free copy of the album on CD slipped inside the sleeve. The album peaked at #23 in the UK Album Charts in its first week of physical release. It may have charted higher but the band sold a number of pre-order copies and digital downloads via their website, which is not a registered chart company.

At just over an hour, it is the band's longest album.

To promote the album, lead singer Gruff Rhys described it as having a "biblical sound," and said that the band wouldn't be able to play any of its songs indoors.[8]

Lyrical themes[edit]

Singer and chief lyric writer Gruff Rhys has claimed that "The Very Best Of Neil Diamond" is about how you can't choose the soundtrack to your life" while "Inaugural Trams" is "a celebratory anthem regarding the opening of a new tram line in a fictitious utopian mainland Europe town".[9][10] The current economic downturn is referenced briefly in songs such as "Inaugural Trams" and "Inconvenience". Rhys has described the writing process as "very collaborative".[11]

Musical style[edit]

According to Rhys the band made a "conscious decision really was not to include the slow numbers" on Dark Days/Light Years going on to state that "There are not a whole lot of chords in these songs; they're not as song-based in the conventional song writing. They've been developed out of band jams, but it turned out sounding like songs pretty much anyway".[11]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[12]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[13]
NME (8/10)[14]
Paste (84/100)[15]
Pitchfork Media (8.3/10)[16]
PopMatters (8/10)[17]
Spin 2.5/5 stars[18]
The Sunday Times 4/5 stars[19]
Uncut 4/5 stars[20]
Under the Radar 8/10 stars[21]

Dark Days/Light Years received generally positive reviews, with Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, giving the album a score of 84 denoting "universal acclaim".[22]

Tracklisting[edit]

All songs written and composed by Super Furry Animals, unless otherwise stated. 

No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Crazy Naked Girls"   Gruff Rhys/Huw Bunford 6:15
2. "Mt."   Cian Ciaran 4:25
3. "Moped Eyes"   Rhys 4:13
4. "Inaugural Trams" (Super Furry Animals, Alex Ragnew) Rhys 5:19
5. "Inconvenience"   Rhys 3:42
6. "Cardiff in the Sun"   Rhys 8:16
7. "The Very Best of Neil Diamond"   Rhys 4:14
8. "Helium Hearts"   Rhys/Ciaran 2:50
9. "White Socks/Flip Flops"   Bunford 5:09
10. "Where Do You Wanna Go?"   Rhys 2:28
11. "Lliwiau Llachar"   Rhys 3:12
12. "Pric"   Ciaran 9:52

Personnel[edit]

The following people contributed to Dark Days/Light Years:[23]

Band[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

  • Nick McCarthy - Spoken word on "Inaugural Trams"
  • Kris Jenkins - Percussion
  • Jessica Rochman - Strings

Recording personnel[edit]

  • Chris Shaw – Co-Producer, Mixing, Engineering
  • Super Furry Animals – Co-Producer
  • Dave Newfeld – Recording of intro to "Crazy Naked Girls" (Miraval Studios)
  • Stuart Hawkes – Mastering (Metropolis Mastering)

Artwork[edit]

Accolades[edit]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Uncut United Kingdom Uncut 50 best albums of 2009[24] 2009 2

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Super Furry Animals reveal new album title". NME. 2009-01-29. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  2. ^ Salmon, Chris (2009-02-27). "Feeding time at the studio". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  3. ^ "It's the Super Filmy Animals". The Guardian. 2009-02-25. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  4. ^ Usborne, Simon (2009-04-12). "How We Met: Pete Fowler & Gruff Rhys". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  5. ^ "Franz Ferdinand collaborate with Super Furry Animals". NME. 2009-04-04. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  6. ^ "Live Review - Super Furry Animals online gig". 
  7. ^ Diver, Mike (2009-04-28). "Super Furry Animals interview". Clash. Retrieved 2009-12-08. 
  8. ^ Pinnock, Tom (2009-04-08). "Super Furry Animals plot 'incredible' return". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  9. ^ Richards, Sam (2009-03-20). "Super Furry Animals are happily home to a hwyl in the wall". The Times (London). Retrieved 2009-12-14. 
  10. ^ Porter, Tom (2009-01-30). "Super Furry Animals' new album track-by-track guide". MusicRadar. Retrieved 2009-12-14. 
  11. ^ a b Gunasekaran, Divya (2009-08-31). "Super Furry Animals: Interview With Gruff Rhys: Day For Night". The Aquarian Weekly. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  12. ^ Allmusic review
  13. ^ The Guardian review
  14. ^ NME review
  15. ^ Paste review
  16. ^ Pitchfork Media review
  17. ^ PopMatters review
  18. ^ Spin review
  19. ^ The Sunday Times review
  20. ^ Uncut review
  21. ^ Under the Radar review
  22. ^ "Dark Days/Light Years by Super Furry Animals". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  23. ^ Hey Venus! (CD booklet). Super Furry Animals. London: Rough Trade Records. 2007. p. 8. 
  24. ^ "50 best albums". Uncut 152: 60. January 2010.