Unlike film and literature, music hasn't made much of a concerted push to produce all-ages material. Though there are many family-friendly albums out there, their typical modus operandi is to be as inoffensive as possible. Sure, granny and the toddlers can all safely listen, but it's doubtful they'll actually enjoy themselves.
Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys has successfully bucked this trend with his second solo album, Candylion. Though certainly not intended as a children's album, Candylion contains all the silly stories, irresistible sing-a-longs and weirdness to make it a child's latest obsession. Fortunately, this obsession won't drive anyone over 10 crazy because Rhys also crams a dizzying amount of sophisticated songwriting and charming melodies into his oeuvre, making Candylion a thoroughly pleasing pop album above anything else.
Sure, listening to songs about saccharine felines and chivalrous knights can get a little syrupy at times, but Rhys also delves into surprisingly weighty topics such as violence, loneliness and even a plane hijacking. In doing so he expertly keeps Candylion from descending into the realm of novelty, while never straying too far from its playful roots.
The juxtaposition of serious and light subject matter, combined with a few songs written in Rhys' native Welsh tongue, does make Candylion a bit of an enigmatic affair. What's perfectly clear, though, is its ability to leave beaming smiles on listeners' faces, young or old.