Gruff Rhys – Hotel Shampoo
A career of over fifteen years recording music has provided irrefutable evidence of one thing – Gruff Rhys knows his way around a tune, and Hotel Shampoo serves as continuing affirmation of that fact. The melodies, harmonies, and pithy lyrics which are Rhys's impressive signature once again appear in playful abundance with upbeat highlights being the Gainsbourg-esque Shark Ridden Waters, and the mariachi fanfare of Sensations in the Dark.
Elsewhere, the mood is generally more sombre, particularly on circumspect ballads Vitamin K and Take a Sentence proving that even in poignancy, Rhys always sees the funny side. But, such is the general feeling of instant familiarity; it can feel at times like a pastiche of his SFA back catalogue presented in the comparatively restrained style of his solo records to date. Of course, this still makes it a joy, just a somewhat contained one in the context of his broad catalogue. [Wilbur Kane]