They began their show with "The International Language of Screaming," but the Super Furry Animals didn't spend too much time howling during their show at the 9:30 club Tuesday night. The band turned in perhaps the most subdued set it has ever played in Washington.
They took the stage in matching "light suits" (hooded jumpers that looked like they were made from crushed glow sticks) for a 90-minute show with a third of the set drawn from the band's mellow (and uneven) new album, "Love Kraft," the songs attractively paired with other favorites that matched their languid mid-tempo tones: "Ice Hockey Hair," "Hello Sunshine," "Run! Christian, Run!"
As with other recent tours, the Furries had a large video screen behind them, but Tuesday's displays weren't as distracting as in the past, leaving the emphasis on the band's melange of electronics, guitar pop and leader Gruff Rhys's elastic, charming vocals. He turned the mike over to drummer Dafydd Ieuan for "Atomik Lust" and to guitarist Huw Bunford for "The Horn," and took the lead on everything else -- he sang "Slow Life" from inside a Power Rangers helmet.
That kind of wacky behavior is typical SFA, but their real charm was revealed when they turned up the heat near the end of the night, blasting into "Do or Die," "Something 4 the Weekend" and the punky surge of the rarely heard "Calimero."
With the fading of the Steely Dan sample in what is probably their best-known song (the one with the unprintable title), the Furries' status as pop music's most imaginative and underrated band was neatly intact.
-- Patrick Foster