American Interior review – Gruff Rhys goes west

Super Furry Animals singer Gruff Rhys raises grins retracing a relative's quest to find Welsh-speaking Native Americans

Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys has already gone west once on film, with 2010's Separado!, his characteristically idiosyncratic history of the Welsh adventure in Patagonia. Now he offers this record of a tour that wasn't quite a tour: a retracing of John Evans' 1792 quest to find Welsh-speaking Native Americans that has yielded a Dave Gorman-like PowerPoint presentation and an album bearing a distinctly American chug and twang. Clearly, Rhys was creating as he went along, which accounts for the film's spontaneity, but also its restless contradictions. Silvery photography stifles some of its larkiness; vox-pops drown out the quieter numbers. Only the title track's gorgeous anomie lingers, but this tentative survey, full of beans and half-baked ideas alike, still generates broad grins. Having a Muppet represent Evans is an approach a Schama might consider non-canonical, yet it's more evidence of Rhys's status as among the daftest, most engaging performers out there.

Contributor

Mike McCahill

The GuardianTramp

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