Gruff Rhys
Sadness Sets Me Free


4.0
excellent

Review

by Raul Stanciu STAFF
January 27th, 2024 | 6 replies


Release Date: 01/26/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The aristocratic furry animal.

Throughout his solo career, Gruff Rhys, former front man of the Welsh act Super Furry Animals, has developed a universe of his own. While the band had crafted a considerably more eclectic output, he finally managed to tend to his idiosyncrasies after taking the helm of his ship. As a result, the man’s music has only become more sophisticated over the years, revolving around an established sound. His quirky character paints bittersweet pictures on contrasting pop tunes. Whether he tackles politics, social matters or personal themes, they all come together under a lush sonic umbrella. Last decade, Gruff traveled to Patagonia in order to find his long-lost relatives, then the American Interior and most recently, undertook a van trip through Europe and walked across Wales (see the video for “Bad Friend”). Most of these experiences brought inspiration for subsequent albums, plus a unique tone to them. After creating a soundtrack for The Almond & The Seahorse, Rhys returned with a more introspective affair, Sadness Sets Me Free.

Recorded in just three days in a 19th century mansion near Paris, the LP definitely shares that refined vibe. There are chamber pop elements with several strings and piano embellishments that really come alive on lovely ballads such as “On the Far Side of the Dollar” or “Cover Up the Cover Up”. Despite the singer’s smooth and melodic vocals, at times I found the instrumentals just as charming, if not more. Moreover, the country style acoustic guitars on the subdued title track, as well as “I Tendered My Resignation” share a soothing, intimate foundation for Gruff and This Is The Kit’s Kate Stables’ warm singalongs. Inevitably, The Almond & The Seahorse OST had an impact on these new tracks, especially regarding the orchestral parts. Thankfully, this latest record’s uplifting tunes retain the same rich atmosphere too. “Silver Lining Lead Balloons” is a sparkling, post-punk-meets-soul number that sounds timeless, while “They Sold My Home to Build a Skyscraper” adds exotic, bossa nova rhythms and ‘80s-type synths into the mix. The latter echoes the excellent “Northern Lights” from Super Furry Animals’ Guerilla record. Another highlight is “Celestial Candyfloss”, channeling classic Pet Sounds with a modern production. Rhys’ restrained vocals certainly boast a charm that suits this type of music and luckily, this time, the songs ended up as some of the strongest overall from his solo output. You will find a mix of grandiose and coziness in each of them, so the variations do not become exhausting. Sadness Sets Me Free is a truly consistent affair, one of the most pleasant Gruff presented us to date.




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user ratings (7)
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 27th 2024


6190 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

His strongest record since Babelsberg IMO.



Stream here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meo_aIo2V6A&list=OLAK5uy_m3-DV9C7YcmNYkVX_gIr9WwalPniS_bfQ&index=2

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
January 27th 2024


5916 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Nice review Raul - you convinced me to check this out now, never heard any of this guy's music before.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 27th 2024


6190 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks!



If you enjoy this, try Hotel Shampoo next, it's poppier and really catchy.

BitterJalapenoJr
Contributing Reviewer
January 28th 2024


1032 Comments


Nice one.

I'm a fan of Super Furry Animals but never tried his solo stuff.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2024


6190 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's more focused and settled overall than Super Furry Animals, but it's good material.

neekafat
Staff Reviewer
January 30th 2024


26224 Comments


so this guy is a furry



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