20 nov 2011

gruff rhys - hotel shampoo

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Nominally inspired by Gruff Rhys' habit of collecting sample bottles of shampoo at every hotel he’s stayed at over the years, Hotel Shampoo is decidedly not a cosmetic concept album, yet it does have an underlying musical theme. Rhys uses this third solo album to slide into his softer side, creating a sweetly hazy, soft pop fantasia that recalls both Bacharach and the sunnier side of ‘60s psychedelia. Such softly swirling spaciness has been Rhys’ specialty ever since Super Furry Animals hit their stride, but the noteworthy thing about Hotel Shampoo is that he sustains his mood while serving up one of his strongest set of songs. The textures are tunes that are familiar yet not comfortable; they take twists and turns, with the melodies following unexpected contours and the arrangements colored with contrasting hues and textures. There’s a lot going on, but Hotel Shampoo never seems cluttered. It flows easily, so easily that it becomes an album to get lost in.

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