“I thought that as I’m getting on a bit, the time had come to buy a suit and record an album of piano ballads” Gruff Rhys explains. “However, I got bored, the record diversified and evolved – things turned out a bit differently…”
Gruff Rhys checks in with third solo album, Hotel Shampoo, his most ambitious and fully realized yet. As well as the intentions above, Hotel Shampoo is inspired by, and takes its title from, Gruff’s extensive collection of mini shampoo bottles and complimentary hotel products acquired whilst touring the world. “Having never kept a journal these items have become like diary entries, triggering memories of all those buildings and random people I’ve met and inspiring songs on the album.”
Hotel Shampoo’s reception desk and opener Shark Ridden Waters is a slice of kaleidoscopic, cinematic pop music produced by Andy Votel. A dozen equally sumptuous songs follow with Gruff’s highly original, cliché-free lyrics ranging over a wide spectrum of topics. Uplifting, mariachi-tinged Sensations In The Dark celebrates discovering music, eco politics is discussed on Conservation Conversation, colonization invades 60s style stomp Christopher Columbus and Patterns Of Power touches on inequality over wailing, distorted guitar. Love in it’s various guises also features heavily – from sugar sweet Honey All Over, string drenched At The Heart Of Love, achingly beautiful ballad If We Were Words (We Would Rhyme) to Space Dust #2; a tale of short-lived, seminar-sparked romance in the form of a duet with El Perro Del Mar. In addition to vocals, Gruff has played much of the instrumentation himself with the album mostly recorded in north Wales before being mixed in LA.
Gruff Rhys’s adventurous and prolific approach has resulted in an impressive, wide-ranging body of work and the pace of his artistic creativity appears to only accelerate. In just the past 12 months Gruff has unveiled his debut film Separado!, an unlikely road trip movie; released The Terror Of Cosmic Loneliness, an experimental, collaborative album with Brazilian TV repairman Tony Da Gatorra, and featured alongside rap heroes De La Soul and Gorillaz on a song about a fictional fast food breakfast product.
Two earlier solo albums have preceded Hotel Shampoo; Yr Atal Genhedlaeth, sung entirely in Welsh, and 2007’s understatedly epic Candylion. Gruff’s other activities include the Mercury nominated Neon Neon synth-pop concept album; providing the only British contribution to Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse’s Dark Night Of The Soul LP; and, of course, his ongoing tenure within Super Furry Animals.
“Rhys seems unable to write a melody that isn’t utterly lovely.” **** – Sunday Times CD Of The Week
“Rhys is Britpop’s true Renaissance Man” **** – Q Magazine
“A beautifully lush record, redolent of late 60s Beach Boys, with a wistfully personal bent.” – The Observer
“No man in Britian has a lovlier voice than Rhys, and if you’re looking for meanderingly melodic psych-pop, you wouldn’t turn to anyone else first.” – Independent On Sunday
“a characteristic gem… the proper response to this glorious record is to sit back and bask in its glow” **** – Q Magazine
“Hotel Shampoo finds him back on form with an album of wistful, psychedelic pop” – Uncut
“A welding of sweet harmony and freewheeling invention” – Mojo
“The biggest array of talent since Woodstock, but in one person” **** – Guardian