Gruff Rhys – Pang!

While Super Furry Animals remain on pause, Gruff Rhys continues making music with his latest solo release

Album Review by Eugenie Johnson | 12 Sep 2019
  • Gruff Rhys – Pang!
Album title: Pang!
Artist: Gruff Rhys
Label: Rough Trade
Release date: 13 Sep

One of the meanings of the word “pang” is to have a sudden feeling of longing. Luckily, if you were yearning for a new album by Gruff Rhys, you haven’t had to endure a long drought. Though Super Furry Animals continue to be on pause, Rhys has continued to regularly produce solo records. His new album, developed over the course of 18 months, comes little more than a year after the release of his last record, Babelsberg.

With Pang! though, Rhys has eschewed some of the defining sonic characteristics of his previous album. Produced and mixed by South African electronic artist Muzi, the string-bathed, orchestral melodies that swept across Babelsberg have been replaced by an airier tone. Rhys employs a cornucopia of sounds that dance around his deft guitar picking and vocals in Welsh (with a couple of verses in Zulu). Ara Deg (Ddaw’r Awen) features rolling, glassy percussion at its core, Eli Haul is a hushed, acoustic number, while Niwl O Anwiredd’s contemplative tone is amplified by vocal harmonies and smoky brass. The bass-heavy, propulsive Ôl Bys / Nodau Clust even breaks down into a short, warped baroque passage.  

Perhaps reflective of the unexpected development of the album, there's something of an air of spontaneity to some of the tracks here, but this same spontaneity can make feel the album feel slightly ephemeral in places. Pang! can sometimes leave you hungering for more, but it’s still often an engaging listen.

Listen to: Niwl O Anwiredd