Album Review: Gruff Rhys – Atheist Xmas EP


Ah, Christmas: the shopping mob melees, the time for goodwill circumvented by consumer market fairy tales and Coca-Cola. It’s a staple of commercialized history, from Saint Nicholas to Jolly St. Nick. Retail chains will play you their carols, peddle some wares, and paint synthetic snow on their doors that takes months to remove. We will wish you well, then let Gruff Rhys take over, because hey– it’s the season of giving! Enter Atheist Xmas.

Rhys’ solo work apart from Super Furry Animals, particularly Hotel Shampoo, is delightfully retro and well-executed, the end result of much tour lodging and on-demand ’70s porn. Atheist Xmas comes entirely out of left field, showing off three, ahem, brutally honest Yuletide tunes. One can simply call this an offhand, acerbic jab at Christmas itself (a la The Vandals or Weird Al), a serious endeavor meant to distastefully mock, or a marketing gimmick (it’s not classy, but it’s fun and effective).

Something tells us to go with Curtain #1.

“Post Apocalypse Christmas” probably would have been better suited for next year, given all the 2012 hype, but its jingly Flaming Lips vibrations are perfectly juxtaposed against such lyrical fare as “we lick our wounds to kill the hunger.” “The End of the Line” shines with double entendre perfection, paralleling queues at the drunken clerk’s cash register with the final hours before your demise. “Slashed Wrists This Christmas” goes a more direct route, despite Rhys being barely comprehensible. Thus, we’ll dub it a catchall summary lacking the tact of tracks one and two.

Atheist Xmas succeeds at being a drearily camp display of nonchalant, lowbrow sing-alongs, lightening your mood with a little dark humor. On behalf of this record, we wish you all a joyously inebriated (and safe) holiday.

Essential Tracks: “Post Apocalypse Christmas”