The fourth solo album by former Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys is inspired by the 18th-century explorer John Evans, who mapped the Missouri river in a vain search for a lost, Welsh-speaking American tribe. As well as this Evans-themed concept album, Rhys has made a film documenting his 2012 tour (gigs featured a PowerPoint presentation on the theme of Evans); a book – sorry, a "psychedelic historical travelogue"; and for those who crave further "immersion", an app. But all Rhys's extra-curricular multimedia has not distracted him from making an album full of wit, originality and indelible tunes, from the rumbling rockabilly of 100 Unread Messages, the Bette Davis Eyes-referencing Lost Tribes and the mournfully mesmerising title track. American Interior explores myth and adventure, the meaning of failure, nationhood and Rhys's own identity (he believes Evans was a distant ancestor). But its songs are not weighed down by the Evans concept, and are hugely enjoyable on their own merits.
Jon Dennis is Guardian's multimedia production editor and also writes about music.