THE Super Furry Animals frontman’s fourth solo record is not just a collection of songs.
It’s also a book, an app and a film, based on fellow Welshman John Evans, who travelled through the US in the 18th century searching for Welsh-speaking native Americans.
Putting the concept to one side, though, is it any good? Yes. As with everything Rhys does, it’s predictable only in its unpredictability and is unlikely to trouble the charts.
His melodic, slightly psychedelic pop has never quite caught on in the way it could and perhaps should have. His melodies take some time to reveal themselves and there’s rarely a memorable chorus to latch onto.
But give them time and these songs just get better and better. 100 Unread Messages is a joy, merging The Pogues, Billy Bragg and skiffle into a rip-roaring busk that sounds a heap of fun and a lot easier than it is.
As well as the Beach Boys influences you would expect (the title track), there’s psychedelic electro trip-hop (The Swamp) and outstanding forays into 1970s rock (Year of the Dog, Tiger’s Tale).
It’s never boring, never dull and full of surprises. You’re in for a treat.
Like this? Try these: Billy Bragg and Wilco, Mermaid Avenue; Paul McCartney: McCartney.
By Andrew Greenhalgh