Thursday, December 8th, 2011

AMNESTY 2011: Gruff Rhys – Sensations in the Dark

Congrats to anyone who guessed the correct writer for this on their Amnesty competition ballot. I still can’t figure it out.


Michaelangelo Matos: For some folks, 1973 will never end.

Iain Mew: Super Furry Animals are one of my favourite bands ever and Gruff Rhys’ third album Hotel Shampoo has a couple of standout singles which get somewhere close to his magnificent “Skylon!”. My standouts would be “Shark Ridden Waters” and “Space Dust #2”, though. “Sensations in the Dark” is breezy and fun, but such a throwaway that I’m genuinely intrigued as to why someone would pick this out of all of the songs of 2011.

Anthony Easton: Sort of like how Kirsty MacColl made herself sound tropical even though she was as Anglo as it comes. It’s fun. Not as smart or as fun as MacColl, but it is solid fun.

Brad Shoup: It’s like a son cubano interpolation of the Temptations’ “Get Ready”. Singers fighting against their accepted register are a personal weakness, and Rhys has cooked up a sweet little melody that bumps lightly into his higher range. I feel like there’s a gap where a Rick Wakeman solo goes, but as it is, it’s a danceable ode to inspiration.

Jer Fairall: Locks into a captivating Latin rhythm that only leaves me wanting a voice strong enough to accompany it rather than one of this typically evasive old-school indie type, but is so succinct in its delivery that I find little time to carp.

Alfred Soto: The vocalist’s thick, mucous tones evoke Elvis Costello essaying one of his late-period experiments, full of affection but without the soul. Rockists used to complain in 1987 when Synclaviers sampled horns. Have they seen Pro Tools?

Katherine St Asaph: Gruff Rhys is neither gruff nor recent-sounding. I probably wouldn’t play this in the dark, and it produces little sensation.

Alex Ostroff: The piano feels very Peanuts, the rhythm is a little bit Latin dance (plus, castanets!), and the vocals float atop it all quite nicely. So, I shouldn’t fault “Sensations in the Dark” for the fact that the horn riff inevitably reminds me of the opening of Ike & Tina’s “River Deep – Mountain High”. Unfortunately, once my brain associates Tina Turner with a track, Gruff Rhys’ voice just can’t measure up.

Jonathan Bogart: The mambo piano line and horn flourishes are just enough to distract from the dull-as-dishwater rock rhythms and sensitive-mope singing. I have a soft spot for when indie rock goes classy (meaning uses horns), but some energy is still required.

Josh Langhoff: If you play this along with the pool party scene from Boogie Nights, it fits pretty well. You have to futz with the volume, but try to time it so the final horn riff hits when Marky Mark jumps in the water. Ooh, now I’ve gotta try it with “How Bizarre”!

Zach Lyon: Is it because Gruff Rhys is no longer 30 or because I’m no longer 13? Maybe it was his bandmates that had all the magic? I don’t listen to Rings Around the World at all anymore, but “Sensations in the Dark” has me listening to it now: to my surprise, it still has one hell of a pulse. So I guess it isn’t me, at least.

Edward Okulicz: Turns out, Funkytown was actually Havana all along.

4 Responses to “AMNESTY 2011: Gruff Rhys – Sensations in the Dark”

  1. Was it me?


    seriously though, context clues are failing me

  2. Actually its suggester didn’t have time to blurb this week!

  3. I hope she (she?) takes some small comfort in the fact that I dug this song and put it on a mix CD for me car.

  4. Sorry dudes I sorta fell off this part of the internet, to the point where as per tradition, I didn’t even write about my own song :(

    It makes me feel morally 1996, and I guess that’s about all I can say!