ROUGH TRADE 8.01.07
I’m left with a smile after the intro with a TV / video game type theme and a voice-over announcement. It leads into the loping title track, drifting along, chorusing the title over and over. The next one, The Court Of King Arthur is gentle too, with very Beatlesque multi-track harmonies. Guest instruments fill in every available spot – flute, cello, xylophone. It’s kind of what I’d expected from the cover – a bearded man makes a kiddies’ model of a lion from cut out cardboard.
Gruff’s listening skills are strong; after the Beatles harmonies, Lonesome Words has a definite air of early Pink Floyd to the vocals before surrendering to a double speed canter. It’s very singer-songwriter, clever, warm and crafted. Gruff’s famously wandering accent is responsible for the strange flavour to the singing. It is largely in English though, unlike his all-Welsh debut album. Let loose from his Super Furry Animals duties for this, his second album, Gruff indulges his individual tastes which, on the evidence in front of us, are about texture and colour more than composition. That’s not to say the songs are lightweight or faulty, it’s the up-close feel of the sounds and the tactile skin-touching nature of the sounds that strike me strongest. It’s a psychedelic record and has an underground feel to it belying the comparative fame of his day-job band. Coming over far more accessible than the debut, it covers all sorts of peculiar but gentle ground, with strumming nu-folk, electronica, folk, a samba and an album-closing 14 minute epic, recounting a strange tale of aircraft abduction. An ambling journey through the byways of Gruff’s imagination and wishes stifled by the creative consensus of a band already somewhere far out there, Candylion is a mind-stretcher.