With this, their fourth album, innovative Welsh superstars Super Furry Animals return to their roots, in more ways than one.
For starters, the record is sung entirely in the band's native tongue. The U.S. release even includes a bonus disc of older Welsh-language tracks that have been unavailable in the States, except on import.
SFA have taken a trip back, retreating even further than their own pop-rock beginnings, creating songs that could have surfaced 30 years ago from a similar, but far less visionary, band.
Horns, keyboards and acoustic guitars dominate the 10 tracks here, with an overall live sound that steers clear of the studio effects the band embraced with their last release, Guerrilla.
The opening "Drygioni" (RealAudio excerpt) is the most sonically intense of the bunch, a quick shot of punk-pop that belies the quieter moments to come.
With its handclap beat, brisk acoustic guitar and fantastically layered vocal melodies, "Ymaelodi Â'r Ymylon" (RealAudio excerpt) is a fairly obvious nod to the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson. It also demonstrates why SFA singer Gruff Rhys is one of the most qualified falsetto singers in modern rock.
Some of the album's finest moments lie in more somber melodies, especially on "Gwreiddiau Dwfn/Mawrth Oer ar y Blaned Neifion" (RealAudio excerpt). A mournfully extended track that dwells on isolation, it segues into an instrumental lament halfway through, before ending in drifting cosmic hypnosis.
For a band that has gone from being retro-pop pranksters with a penchant for psychedelic effects, bizarre lyrics and delightfully catchy sing-alongs to throwing fans for a loop with sheer complexity and the ability to seamlessly mesh calypso, punk, dance, electronica, hip-hop and acoustic pop into a working album, SFA show no signs of running short of surprises. Mwng is simply a display of their ability to refashion the past into the present.