Artist: Super Furry Animals
Reason Featured: #14 Album for Pitchfork’s Top Twenty Albums of 2000, #11 Album for NME’s Top Fifty Albums of 2000, first Welsh-language album to enter the Top 20 best-selling albums in the UK
My Favorite Songs: Dacw Hi, Pan Ddaw’r Wawr, Ysbeidiau Heulog
Their Grades: NME (8/10), Pitchfork (8.2/10), Rolling Stone (3.5/5)
My Grade: 87%
For an album recorded in Welsh, Mwng is pretty immediate and relatable. The band said that, despite the language barrier, this was a record about their appreciation for Anglo-American pop culture from the 60s to the 80s. Unlike another acclaimed language-besides-English album from 2000 (Sigur Ros’s Agaetis Byrjun), Super Furry Animals doesn’t dip many tracks too deep into the pool of experimentalism. For that matter, tracks like “Y Gwyneb Iau” and “Y Teimlad” have more in common with Burt Bacharach than they do Jonsi and company.
Of course, this isn’t an album which rests on convention either, as should be apparent from the Welsh lyrics, spooky album cover and band name. “Sarn Helen” opens with some chimey, plucked instrument sounding more like a sitar than a guitar and “Pan Ddaw’r Wawr” is a brassy march into the spirit of primal impulse. But the thing that makes Mwng stand out is how none of its weirdness sends you reeling. It’s so rooted in pop structures that even its most bizarre moments are accessible on the first listen.
This was the Furries’ first release after the coked-out collapse of their former label Creation Records. Indeed, my first exposure to their work came through watching the Creation documentary, Upside Down. It wouldn’t have fit Creation’s aesthetic since it wouldn’t have fit anyone’s but their own.