[sic] Magazine

The Earth – Keltic Voodoo Boogaloo

When compiling an end-of-year list of 2013’s greatest albums, [sic] proclaimed that one positive of Super Furry Animals taking a hiatus is that ‘we get even more records from the various members.’ Since that article’s featured album, (They Are Nothing Without Us, the second solo work by keyboardist Cian Ciaran), 2014 has already seen worthy releases by singer Gruff Rhys (his fourth solo album, American Interior) and bassist Guto Pryce (the debut record with his Gulp band). And now, as if we have not been spoilt enough, The Earth, formed by SFA sticksman Dafydd Ieuan and former Catatonia songwriter-and-guitarist Mark Roberts, release their second album, Keltic Voodoo Boogaloo.

Released on Ieuan’s own Cardiff-based label Strangetown Records, Keltic Voodoo is the most-removed yet of the psychedelia-meets-East Coast sound by Super Furry members and it’s also a distinctly soulful record, underpinned by the striking vocals of Dionne Bennet. Her voice is powerful, homely, rootsy; so much so that The Earth no longer seems an ambitious name for a pop group but an entirely appropriate title.

The Earth comprise of foundations of classic songwriting with a rich topsoil of melody, forming a vast, inescapable landscape of strength, warmth and beauty. The immediacy and sheer force of each chorus means there is little chance for reflection or contemplation, the listener taken instantly wherever Bennet wants to go. First stop is ‘Liberty Road’, a piano-led stomp exploring Bennet’s freedom, the rousing chorus (“Don’t you love me?/Don’t you need me?”) pulling all along on the journey with her. ‘Can’t Have It All’ is a gospel-tinged rocker with a chorus both refreshing and familiar, a trait shared on the brass-buoyed ‘I Don’t Fit In’.

Fans of Super Furry Animals or Catatonia will also find plenty to enjoy on this record; ‘Baby Bones’ is built on an hypnotic, looping guitar chord progression, before Bennet’s captivating vocal again emerges to sweep all before it. ‘Quick Fix’ could be Bad Behaviour’s better-mannered, assertive sister, whilst ‘Sea of Subterfuge’ builds around a dizzying guitar phase which would be perfectly at home on Guerilla.

Ieuan explained to [sic] how The Earth’s songwriting process works: “It’s usually Mark or myself that start the songs or ideas off, but it’s very much a band effort.” A good example of this might be ‘Rear View Mirror’, which develops a dark guitar riff into an upbeat rocker with shades of Tina Turner as Bennet triumphantly challenges to “Check me out in your rear view mirror”.

There are subtleties, too, ‘Superstitious Now’ creeping along in a verse as haunting as Mezzanine-era Massive Attack, before climbing to a gospel-led outro. Closing track, ‘The Earth Beats The Machine’, in classic Super Furry Animals fashion, grows from gentle, slow-paced beginnings, through to a grand (gospel-aided) chorus with added electronic noises, before a fading looped outro winds the album down to a close.

“Hope you enjoy listening. I know I did mixing it,” added Cian Ciaran, when arranging [sic]’s copy of Keltic Voodoo Boogaloo. We certainly did.

~Keltic Voodoo Boogaloo is out now Strangetown Records.~