Former Super Furry Animals frontman’s latest is sweet enough
Gruff Rhys will release a new album, Sadness Sets Me Free, on Rough Trade on January 26, 2024.
The album, his 25th and the follow up to 2021’s Seeking New Gods – which was his first Top Ten solo LP – will come with a bonus 7″ with the first 1,500 copies.
The first fruit of the album sessions to emerge has just been shared. ‘Celestial Candyfloss’ is a classic example of the Rhys trademark knack for wrapping up the familiar and classic with the weird, wonderful and unexpected. The four minute track might best be descriped as psychedelic pop with disco trimmings. The eye-popping video was created by long-time collaborator Mark James and is designed to compliment “the scope and style of the song on a galactic scale”.
‘Celestial Candyfloss’ is, Gruff says, “an attempted pocket symphony about the cosmic lengths that people will travel in the pursuit of love and acceptance. Mark James has brought the Sadness Sets Me Free album cover to life and managed to place me watching TV interference in a shipping container that’s lost in space. For what is apparently the 25th album I’ve had a hand in writing I’ve reverted to a rich seam of inspiration relating to shedding some light on sadness and the general terror of cosmic loneliness.”
Gruff and his band – Osian Gwynedd (piano), Huw V Williams (double bass) and former Flaming Lips drummer turned Super Furry Animals archivist Kliph Scurlock (drums) recorded the album in just three days, having piled into a van (driven by the late, legendary tour manager “Dr” Kiko Loiacono) and raced from Dunkirk, where they had just played the final show of a tour of Spain and France, to the outskirts of Paris in the early hours of a March morning in 2022.
There, in La Frette Studios, a recording facility installed in a 19th-century house, Gruff and his road-hardened group tracked the album, with backing vocals later added by Kate Stables from This Is The Kit, along with additional strings and orchestration.
“At this point I quite like working with serendipity,” Rhys says. “Not in a cosmic way, [but] I try and leave things open to chance encounters and chance geography. As I’m around 25 albums in I’m always looking for ways to make a different-sounding record.”