With the demise of Creation, SFA needed to find a new label for their next album. Sony had long held a substantial stake in Creation and offered deals to many ex-Creation artists, including SFA, who signed with one of Sony’s subsidiaries, Epic. The band pushed for a deal which allowed them to take a new album elsewhere if the label wasn’t interested in releasing it – thereby allowing them to find a home for any esoteric project they might want to undertake in the future.
The greater resources afforded them by Epic were apparent in their first album for the label, Rings Around the World, an album that recaptured the cohesive, experimental feel of Guerrilla but more song-driven and sonically expansive. The first single was a good indication of what was to come: “Juxtapozed With U”, released in July 2001, and made #14 in the charts.
The album followed in the same month, reaching #3 in the album charts. One of the tracks from the album, “Receptacle For The Respectable” featured Paul McCartney on “carrot and celery rhythm track” (a homage to his performance on the Beach Boys’ “Vegetables”). SFA unleashed their experimental side on tracks such as “Sidewalk Serfer Girl” (which switches between light techno-pop and hardcore punk), “(A) Touch Sensitive” (gloomy trip-hop) and “No Sympathy” (which descends into chaotic drum’n’bass).
Rings Around the World is also remarkable for being the world’s first simultaneous release of an audio and DVD album. It was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2001.