Longtime Super Furry Animals album artist Pete Fowler collaborated with Keiichi Tanaami, the designer responsible for their 2007 album Hey Venus!, for the cover art for SFA's ninth album, Dark Days/Light Years, and it's a fitting gesture for an album that connects the focused, revitalized band of the late 2000s with the renegades of the late '90s. A cursory listen reveals Dark Days to be considerably wilder than Hey Venus!, whose primary charm was its streamlined efficiency, showcasing the band at its tight, melodic best. Elements of this remain -- it's hard to strip the Day-Glo pop out of SFA, and they do not deny themselves, or us, this candied pleasure -- but the opener, "Crazy Naked Ladies," makes it plain that this is a buoyant, electrified, psychedelic affair, as much about texture as it is about sound. In that sense, it has a kindred spirit in Guerrilla, the third album that found SFA getting elastically electronic instead of precisely pop, but if anything, the group's two sides are integrated seamlessly here with the band shifting gears almost imperceptibly, transitioning smoothly from fuzz-flaked guitars to pulsating electro beats. This liquid ease distinguishes Dark Days/Light Years as latter-day SFA, as does their continued reliance on showcasing each of their main singer/songwriters, giving this a bit of a democratic heft, but SFA avoid any of the respectable middlebrow bloat that taints the worthy Rings Around the World period. Dark Days is vibrant and alive, an ever-flowing, ever-shifting, carousel of sound -- some might miss the emphasis on song, but it's a ride that's hard to resist.