Home > News & Reviews > Gruff Rhys

Gruff Rhys - Pang! (Album Review)

Wednesday, 18 September 2019 Written by Jacob Brookman

Following 2018’s expansive and orchestral ‘Babelsberg’, Gruff Rhys has reined in his arrangements on ‘Pang!’, composing an album of tidy chamber indie that has its basis in British folk. Interestingly, this is offset by the handling of South African DJ and record producer Muzi, who has added a host of non-Western musical elements, including a few lines sung in Zulu. The rest of the album is delivered in Welsh.

The Super Furry Animals frontman is an artist who inspires intense loyalty from fans and relative indifference from the British public at large. The reason for this vexing inconsistency is clear to see on ‘Pang!’.

Rhys often sings from a specifically Celtic perspective, melding highly observant left-field otherness with the kitchen sink normality of caravan holidays and cheese on toast.

It’s something that is both rather general and highly specific, and when presented with Rhys's favoured rinky-dink melodies and twee softness, the effect is surprisingly divisive.

This is demonstrated on tracks such as Bae Bae Bae and Ara Deg (ddaw’r awen), both of which marry sunny guitar riffs with elaborate, ornate arrangements. Rhys’s singing retains his signature low-slung style and while the language choice means that song meanings require a little unlocking for non-Welsh speakers, it really doesn’t detract from vocals that are extraordinarily lyrical and distinctive. 

This element is also present on the remarkable Taranau Mai, which blends hypnotic guitar runs with tabla percussion and magical harp glissando. Once again, we are in quite a comfy generic space: Rhys’s oeuvre has always had more in common with Belle & Sebastian than the Manic Street Preachers, but it remains enjoyable music that incorporates a host of diverse elements. 

The challenge, as it so often is with Rhys’ music, is the tweeness that permeates the record. ‘Pang!’ has an unmistakable lack of energy that feels both effortless and highly contrived: a kind of artisan slackerness. It is exactly what his fans come to love and expect, but it stops his music from ever feeling groundbreaking, even when it is. 

Gruff Rhys Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue October 15 2019 - GATESHEAD Sage
Sun October 20 2019 - MANCHESTER YES
Mon October 21 2019 - CAMBRIDGE Storey's Field Centre
Wed October 23 2019 - LONDON EartH
Mon December 09 2019 - DUBLIN Whelans
Tue December 10 2019 - CORK St Lukes
Wed December 11 2019 - BELFAST Empire Music Hall

Click here to compare & buy Gruff Rhys Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!

Related News

Gruff Rhys Confirms December Irish Shows Supporting 'Pang!' Release
Wed 31 Jul 2019
Gruff Rhys has added three Irish dates to his 2019 tour plans.
Gruff Rhys Confirms October UK Shows Following 'Pang!' Announcement
Thu 11 Jul 2019
Gruff Rhys has lined up a series of headlining shows for the autumn.
Gruff Rhys Announces New Solo Album 'Pang!' And Shares Title Track
Wed 10 Jul 2019
Gruff Rhys has announced a new solo record.
Bombay Bicycle Club Add Second Dublin Show To 2020 Tour Due To Demand
Fri 13 Sep 2019
Bombay Bicycle Club have added an extra date to their upcoming live plans.
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds Announce New Double Album 'Ghosteen'
Mon 23 Sep 2019
Nick Cave has surprised fans with the announcement of a new double album from himself and the Bad Seeds.
Bat For Lashes - Lost Girls (Album Review)
Fri 13 Sep 2019
Well, the new Bat for Lashes album is superb. Natasha Khan has mapped out a magical synth voyage into 1980s teen sci-fi horror, which marries her Home Counties purr with the 35mm joy of a Hollywood sound stage.
The Twilight Sad Share Two New Songs Rats And Public Housing Ahead Of Autumn Tour
Tue 08 Oct 2019
The Twilight Sad have shared two new songs ahead of their autumn tour dates.
Battles Share New Tracks A Loop So Nice... & They Played It Twice Ahead Of 'Juice B Crypts' Release
Fri 27 Sep 2019
​ Photo: Atiba Jefferson Battles have shared two new tracks prior to dropping their album.
< Prev   Next >