Sing When You're Gull-Winging

US production whiz hires SFA mainman, perfect pastiche synth-pop ensues

If, as is often claimed, there exist vocalists who could put the contents of the Yellow Pages to music and make such a composition sound interesting, then not only would Gruff Rhys be a likely candidate – he’d probably approach the proposition with glee. He certainly seems partial to the appeal of a good concept album. If not supplementing his song collections with elaborate and far-fetched companion themes alongside his Super Furry bandmates, he's likely to be doing so alone or in a collaborated guise. Here he teams up with eclectic US hip-hop producer Bryan Hollon (Boom Bip) on Stainless Style, perhaps his most high-concept outing yet.

Typically, the idea sounds unusual on paper. It goes roughly as follows: Stainless Style is ostensibly inspired by John DeLorean, automotive pioneer, Back To The Future car designer and excessive cocaine consumer. The music follows this theme intently with the record split evenly between slick 80’s synth pop and old-school urban hip-hop. The lyrics are possibly even more DeLorean-centric, with enough motor-related puns and references to exhaust even the most avid Top Gear aficionado.

Although incongruous at first and erratic in patches, the record’s strongest tracks ‘I Told Her On Alderaan’, ‘Raquel’ and ‘Steel Your Girl’ stand up amongst Rhys’ vast catalogue of richly melodic pop compositions. Indeed, Hollon’s acquisition of the SFA frontman is a masterstroke. In more careless hands the concept may have surrendered to the crassness of the album’s title, instead it lives up to its intended inference. Stainless Style, with substance to boot.

Key Track: ‘I Told Her On Alderaan’


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