Gruff Rhys Yr Atal Genhedlaeth

[Placid Casual; 2005]

Styles: indie rock
Others: Brave Captain, Super Furry Animals

Some artists in the world of modern music are rightly hailed for their way with words. Plaudits rain down on the likes of Dylan, Morrissey, and Gallagher; their lyrical dexterity leads to them being hailed as "poets for a generation." Theses are written and Masters courses are launched in order to interpret the wisdom of these individuals. However, I'm not convinced about equating music with high literature. It can have a similar emotional impact, of course, but for me it acts on different synapses, pushes a different set of buttons if you will.

Of course, well-written verse is far preferable to hearing about someone living la vida loca. However, the implication of the worship of wordsmithery is that music without meaningful lyrics is somehow less worthy. Of course, this ignores the vast pantheon of instrumental music and then, of course, songs sung in a foreign tongue, and you would be hard pressed to find a tongue more obscure than Welsh. Only three hundred thousand global citizens speak it as their first language, yet it is fair to say that those that do are militant about preserving it, as it is intertwined with their culture and heritage. The Super Furry Animals are rightly proud of their background and released the acclaimed Welsh-language album Mwyng a few years back. Singer Gruff Rhys has now struck out on his own and released Yr Atal Genhedlaeth, an album of demos he recorded over a few days and decided to release in that form as it had no need of embellishment.

Welsh is not a language which invites guesswork in its comprehension. Lengthy words seemingly lacking in vowels are highly perplexing for an English speaker. Therefore we have to go purely with the music, and it's good stuff. Essentially it sounds like a Super Furries demo album, with great melodies nicely exposed under fewer layers of sound. "Gwn Mi Wn" is a proper pop song, sung in a round over a simple backbeat. "Rhagluniaeth Ysgafn" is underpinned by simple electronics and features someone coughing halfway through. This album was not produced by Trevor Horn. The real highlights are the laid back numbers, "Pwdin Wy 2" and "Chwarea'n Troi'n Chwerw," their emotional nature not hampered by their unintelligibility. If you like the Super Furry Animals you will definitely enjoy this album. Fuck dafodiaith, as d barti!

1. Yr Atal Genhedlaeth
2. Gwn Mi Wn
3. Epynt
4. Rhagluniaeth Ysgafn
5. Pwdin Wy 1
6. Pwdin Wy 2
7. Y Gwybodusion
8. Caerffosiaeth
9. Ambell Waith
10. Ni Yw Y Byd
11. Chwarea'n Troi'n Chwerw

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