Super Furry Animals
A weird year for albums, 1997 - not much new, with a lot of band's 2nd / 3rd / 4th albums coming under close scrutiny. For me, the best of the lot was the Super Furries' second effort. I missed out on SFA first time round, so 'Radiator' fell on fresh indie-trained ears looking for something a bit more interesting than a third Oasis album.
The nearest equivalent to 'Radiator' I can think of is the Boo Radley's 'Giant Steps' - it shouldn't work as an album, it should fall apart into 14 mutually exclusive messes, but somehow it all makes a weird, wonderful kind of sense. The greatest albums are eclectic, full of great singles, and yet still hold together as a coherent whole, and 'Radiator' gets away with murder, sliding effortlessly from noisy pop genius on 'International Language Of Screaming' to the laid-back Beach Boys phasers of 'Bass Tuned To D.E.A.D.'.
If you can write an album about Puerto Rican goat-eating bats, Albert Einstein's parents, and Sierra Leone's revolutionary leader Valentine Strasser, and make videos in which 3D versions of yourselves kick 10ft high footballs into virtual goalmouths, you have my respect. If you can make me wander round for three weeks involuntarily performing handclaps in the street to the tune of 'Play It Cool', then I salute you for writing the coolest and damned catchiest single of the year bar 'Brimful Of Asha'. This is an album by a band who may well pop down the pub and visit the moon in the same three magical minutes, and the only potential travesty is the non-appearance of 'The Man Don't Give A Fuck'. Poppy, stoppy and never ever floppy, music to think to and drink to, cool and smooth with a hidden rough edge, 'Radiator' is wider and deeper than 'Fuzzy Logic' - in fact it's so wide, I can't get over it.