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Gruff Rhys furthers his transition into some sort of Lee Hazlewood/Paul Williams figure with this ambitious and warmly textured new album Babelsberg. Chock full of overblown slices of 70s excess, west coast country and complete with extensive, beautiful orchestration courtesy of the National Orchestra of Wales, it's a lush and purely enjoyable listen, jettisoning most of the wild avant garde craziness that has played cameo roles in the majority of Rhys' recorded output. Having said that, we do still get the absurdist lyrical flourishes and daft song titles ("Architecture of Amnesia" and "Selfies in the Sunset" are my particular favourites). There are occasional nods to Rhys' past (the guitar lines on "Take That Call" have more than a passing resemblance to Super Furry Animals' classic "Ice Hockey Hair" hook), but generally speaking, these are songs which see Rhys ambitiously moving into new territory. The resulting album is easily the most accessible pop record of Rhys' long and varied career. 

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Gruff Rhys