Release Date: Jun 8, 2018
Record label: Rough Trade
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
First impressions of this new solo record from Gruff Rhys - his fifth - are that it's a lofty piece of work; the title, which he noted down on the road years before knowing he'd one day come to use it, came about because he was "looking for a name that evoked the Tower of Babel - people building towers to reach an idea of heaven". 'Babelsberg' is certainly a thematically ambitious work but that isn't to say that it isn't accessible; it's a melodic and consistently playful record, even with the formidable backing of the 72-piece BBC National Orchestra of Wales making up a huge part of the instrumental palette. 'Take That Call', a track that feels like the album's cornerstone, does a great job of summing up how impressively complimentary Gruff has managed to make the work of his backing band, who work in tandem with the sheer grandiosity of the strings.
The fifth solo album by Super Furry Animals front man Gruff Rhys has been a while in the making, but it’s a textbook example of all good things being worth the wait. The majority of the songs on Babelsberg were written over two years ago, but Rhys wrote them specifically to be performed with the acclaimed composer Stephen McNeff. Being a busy man, it took a while for McNeff to find a window in his schedule.
Though borrowing its name from a real place in Germany, Rhys' Babelsberg has the parable of the biblical tower in the back of its mind. Foregoing a heavy moral to impart, the album's ten songs observe but aren't looking to pass judgement so much as entreat to keep your eyes open and stay positive. Rhys has an eye for detail and, as do his Super Furry Animals , a mind tuned to adventure.