SUPER FURRY ANIMALS Phantom Power (Sony)

I simply adore this band, probably the best rock ‘n’ roll outfit that has ever come out of Wales! SFA have never kept still – from the glam-punk-pop of debut Fuzzy Logic to the sophisticated Love-influenced Radiator, from the electro-futurist Guerilla to the widescreen pop epic Rings Around the World, SFA have managed to stay ahead of the pop game whilst their Britpop contemporaries have somewhat languished, SFA have flourished, even if they remain cruelly under-rated and ignored.

Phantom Power, SFA’s latest magnum opus deserves all the hype and attention currently being lavished on Irish whiz kids, The Thrills. Without taking anything away from The Thrills, the same people should be drowning SFA with the same floods of acclaim. *Sigh*

A little more downbeat and rustic than previous outings, the specter of Neil Young looms large on this illuminating collection as pedal steels gleam, Jack Nietzsche strings hover and environmental themes simmer softly beneath the surface.

In songs like the ominous “The Piccolo Snare,” the bright “Hello Sunshine,” the deliberate “Bleed Forever,” the pounding “The Undefeated” and the chirpy “Liberty Belle,” SFA continue to deliver a Molotov cocktail of winning pop tunes and Syd Barrett-like whimsy.

Well, at the moment, nobody does it better. A+