The Christmas song. Three words that can enthral and delight in equal measure – for every identikit X Factor release and annoying novelty song, there is a Low Christmas album or a ‘Christmas Is Awesome’ by Reuben to provide some much-needed balance in the music world. Although the race for Christmas Number 1 is not really given a moment’s thought by most (bar the odd social networking campaign), the grand old tradition of the festive song is still going strong and many alternative bands have decided to celebrate this most wonderful time of year. Now, Gruff Rhys, one of indie’s elder statesmen, the frontman of Super Furry Animals and genius behind this year’s Hotel Shampoo, dons his Santa cap and offers his own soundtrack to eating too many mince pies and drinking too much brandy. With the EP being called Atheist Christmas, it’s very doubtful he’ll be discussing any babies being born in stables or wise men.

Most of us consider the festive season to be a happy time, but not Gruff. ‘Post Apocalypse Christmas’ belies its title with the jaunty bassline and the way the words "Post apocalypse Christmas" are sung with a hint of glee, while Gruff mentions concrete bunkers, licking our wounds and how "Even through a nuclear winter, here comes Santa with his reindeer." A very short and sweet song with a lo-fi edge that sounds like a Motown-friendly SFA at their most serene, Gruff’s distinctive vocals are complemented by effect-laden guitars and a solo that brings back memories of Adam Green’s early demo recording of ‘Dance With Me’. ‘At the End of the Line’ definitely has the Christmas spirit with its Spector/60s girl band and oompah brass band vibes, as Gruff talks through a Christmas day telephone conversation with his father, before it descends into a bizarre jazz ending that doesn’t quite work as well as it could, and perhaps should. With a clear reference to Mud’s ‘Lonely This Christmas’, the sure-to-be controversial ‘Slashed Wrists This Christmas’ talks through a suicide attempt and how: "It was 1987, you’d just been diagnosed with manic depression." A heavy subject that is sweetly sung against a waltz backdrop, Gruff then goes on to say how "The light entertainment drives us to slashed wrists this Christmas." The subject matter may be severely uncomfortable which does affect enjoyment, but the music is beguiling. This EP won’t be heralded as a Christmas classic, but for a break from the relentless positivity that adorns December, it more than does the job. The first two tracks at least, would also make a decent stocking filler for anyone with a world-weary view of this time of year.