The worst mistake any band can make, if they want to get noticed, is to release consistently excellent records. Without the clichéd "falls from grace" and the proverbial "stunning returns to form", you just become invisible. So it is with Super Furry Animals, whose endlessly inventive psych-pop ought to have sealed their place as a national treasure after 15 years. Dark Days/Light Years isn't, to my mind, the Furries' finest, but it's growing in stature with every listen. It starts with two pieces of voodoo glam in the style of Marc Bolan, Ringo Starr and John Kongos in "Crazy Naked Girls" (great title) and "Mt". From thereon, it leaps around as many styles as any other SFA album, from the Bollywood-flavoured "The Very Best of Neil Diamond" (another great title) to the childlike "Inaugural Trams". Perhaps the loveliest moment, "Helium Hearts", has barely started before it ends, which tells you plenty: so tune-rich are SFA they can afford to squander a beauty like that.
'I did a toy figure based on Gruff as an older man with an allotment. I put him in a tank top'
The Welsh actor, infamous for making inappropriate comments, does it again in radio interview
Talvin Singh ('Ok' - Winner 1999)
People got to know my music that had never heard it before, so that is a positive point, and the Mercury Prize can stretch your career in that way, but I've never really taken much advantage of that because I've been on a bit of sabbatical from recording for the past few years. When I won you couldn't get my records for four months because the record company had never thought of me winning so they didn't stock up. So, for record sales, that didn't really help.
Tip to win: Burial
The louche life of John DeLorean is the perfect subject matter for Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip's new project, Neon Neon
One of the bands at the forefront of last year’s new underage scene, Bombay Bicycle Club, were quick to make their mark in the summer when they stormed the Underage and Reading festivals.