Album Review – Gruff Rhys

Gruff Rhys

Gruff Rhys – ‘American Interior.’ (Turnstile)

Sometime Super Furry Animals singer Gruff Rhys isn’t a man to do things by halves. His fourth solo album is also an app, a book and a film. It’s inspired by a distant relative of his called John Evans, who ‘left Wales for Baltimore in 1792 and walked into the wilderness of the Allegheny mountains in search of a lost tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans, believed to be the descendants of Prince Madog.’

Now, that’s pretty brilliant just written down. I have yet to encounter book, film or app (to the best of my knowledge these weren’t on offer to reviewers), but the album is fantatsic. It’s inspired by Evans’ original journey.

The title track’s been picking up airplay on 6Music, and is a pretty great tune on its own, but ultimately it makes even more sense as part of this lovely album. Now into his third decade of making music, Rhys is as much a renaissance man as Damon Albarn (I mean that as a compliment) who has the songs and voice to go with the vision. Just as the Proclaimers were proud to sing in Scottish accents, so Rhys is proud to sing in his Welsh accent, and unravel this strange and fascinating tale.

Punk’s (supposed) scorched earth policy left the idea of the concept album almost for dead. This hangs together rather wonderfully, and whether SFA ever come back off hiatus, it’s clear that this is a man with some wonderful and truly unique songs to share.


American Interior is released by Turnstile on May 5.

The return of Gruff Rhys

Gruff Rhys

Super Furry Animals have now been on hiatus for five years, but in that time they have been working on various projects. Not least singer Gruff Rhys who has recorded under both his own name and as half as Neon Neon. He’s just about to release his fourth solo album, American Interior.

According to the press release ‘American Interior is a unique project… blurring the boundaries and possibilities of songwriting, music, literature, film and technology to create a multisensory experience telling the incredible true story of John Evans, a twenty-two-year-old farmhand from Snowdonia, Wales, who travelled to America in search of a Welsh-speaking Native American tribe – The Madogwys – still walking the Great Plains.

Reportedly Gruff Rhys is a distant relative of Evans. In the summer of 2012, over two hundred years later, he retraced the explorer’s route through the heart of the continent by means of an “Investigative Concert Tour” – a series of solo gigs that saw him accompanied by little more than acoustic guitar, PowerPoint presentation and ‘a three-foot high felt avatar of John Evans designed by artist and long-time collaborator Pete Fowler.’

The album tracklisting is as follows:

1. American Exterior
2. American Interior
3. 100 Unread Messages
4. The Whether (Or Not)
5. The Last Conquistador
6. Lost Tribes
7. Liberty (Is Where We’ll Be)
8. Allweddellau Allweddol
9. The Swamp
10. Iolo
11. Walk Into The Wilderness
12. Year Of The Dog
13. Tiger’s Tale

The video for the title track and forthcoming single can be seen below:

The Return Of Super Furry Animals


Next week will see the release of the Super Furry Animals’ ninth album, entitled Dark Days/Light Years.

Released in the sense of the fact that it will be available digitally from Monday night over at their website. It will be physically released on April 13 in the UK and April 21 in the US.

This track has been made available as a free download…and it’s great. Classic SFA, I’m not quite sure what they’re on about, but it’s gorgeous, and makes me wish i could actually dance. And it reminds me that SFA are a national treasure, and whilst so many fell by the wayside, they continue to innovate because they always innovated. To the best of my knowledge it’s the first time they’ve ever had Nick McCarthy from Franz Ferdinand rapping on any of their songs before. In German. Actually, I’m not sure he’s rapped on any of Franz Ferdinand’s stuff before, and I’ve got most of what they’ve put out…

Super Furry Animals -‘Inaugural Trams.’ mp3