Scintillating songs let down by clumsy visuals

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Last Night Of The Promos

For a band notoriously over-endowed with great ideas, Super Furry Animals have made a lot of quite frustrating promo videos. The songs on this compilation are almost invariably brilliant. But SFA’s wildest visual concepts?the giant inflatable bears, the rave tank parked at festivals, Pete Fowler’s cute monster artwork-rarely seem to be matched by clips that do them justice.

You can blame fluctuating budgets, incomprehending directors, record company conservatism or the general awkwardness of SFA themselves when forced to perform for the camera. Whatever, Songbook reveals a Technicolor world of missed opportunities. Neat enough plots, like the band being converted into video game footballers, or loitering in all-night garages, never quite work out. Only when they mutate into a yeti garage band in “Golden Retriever”, or are dissolved into swirling digital fractals during the magnificent “Slow Life”, does their psychedelic invention shine through. Fans of ropey acting, however, should watch out for Rhys Ifans’ turn as Man With Suitcase In A Field in “Hometown Unicorn”; one of his better performances, actually.

JOHN MULVEY