Bands that make eclecticism part of their identity tend to fall off the deep end; most find a diverse balance early, then spiral out into oblivion, searching for something weird. Super Furry Animals' artfully assorted output has never suffered that problem, but it's still surprising that Hey Venus!, the Welsh band's eighth studio album, might be its best. It's unabashedly a pop album, and by restraining its inventiveness, the band maintains a warm of sense of Zappa-esque liveliness. From cheerily sunny tracks such as "Show Your Hand" to the arresting "Suckers," Hey Venus! is packed with memorable harmonies; the album's highlights sound like updated versions of Burt Bacharach's soulful slow-rockers, especially the piano-plunking "Let The Wolves Howl At The Moon," the trumpet solo of "The Gift That Keeps Giving," and even the Motown-ish "Carbon Dating." Each serves as a reminder to indie-rockers that good songs are more fun than simple weirdness.
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