Cultural icons inspire weird Welsh pop genius.
A petrol station is not supposed to be a fountain of knowledge. A newspaper, a magazine, or possibly a trashy novel can be procured, but real biographical information is not something that you might expect. Except in the days before the internet, UK motorway service stations always had these random items that you can’t imagine anyone would want. Maybe they still have them (a band who tour regularly would know?).
For the Welsh band Super Furry Animals, a petrol station’s random book contents became the inspiration for ‘Hermann ♥s Pauline’. Short books about famous figures were sold there and thin biographies of Nobel prizewinning chemist/physicist Marie Curie, theoretical physicist Albert Einstein and Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara form the basis of this song, which is filled with facts from their lives. Super Furries take facts and have a bit of fun with them. “Marie Curie was Polish born but French bred! HA French Bread!”. The lovers in the title are Einstein’s parents.
Super Furry Animals have been one of my favourite bands since I bought Fuzzy Logic only to find, due to a manufacturing error that the single for Oasis’ ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ was on the SFA-stamped disc. Creation Records’ notorious professionalism in action.
‘Hermann ♥s Pauline’ has a lot of why I love the band and it features on one of my favourite albums of all-time Radiator. The band’s eclectic weirdness is present throughout: from the electronic pulse in the background, to the guitar riff and drum intro that sound like shattering glass, to the 70s-backing vocals underpinning the song to their inherent gift for giddy pop melodies wrapped up in all of that weirdness.