Friday, 19 August 2011

Album review: THE FEELIES - Here Before

Highlights: Nobody Knows, Again Today, When You Know, Morning Comes, Time Is Right

On the one hand, belated comebacks like this must put an artist under tremendous lots of pressure. But then you of course have to consider the fact that The Feelies never had all that much fame and success even in their day. The pressure must surely go easier on them. Well, they certainly wanted to make a good, positive impression and leave a mark on a new generation of listeners and, quite inevitably, critics, but then they could easily get away with something relatively modest and inconspicuous. Apparently a collection of nice and tasteful songs done in their trademark style would have sufficed. That Here Before happens to be a great collection of nice and tasteful songs is certainly a bonus.

Their typically intense, driving strumming – the one that brought them their cult-flavoured fame throughout their modest 80’s heyday – is back. It’s all very jangly this time, with the band's nervy edges polished by good production and matured songwriting, and may occasionally remind one of Tom Petty's less adventurous records (admittedly a rare thing), not least in vocal delivery. While nothing on Here Before matches the left-field magnificence of “The Boy With Perpetual Nervousness”, the album itself might well be more consistently brilliant than their classic debut Crazy Rhythms. A good song after a good song after a good song. Each with a solid vocal hook and their distinct, guitar-led instrumentation that is equally irresistible on rockers (“Time Is Right”) and ballads (title track). Having said that, the majority of the album is their typically heady mid-tempo material that will definitely please both critics and fans. And possibly some others, too.

Add to this the fact that all through the album the band sounds incredibly tight, and you’ve got a quality comeback record on your hands. Perhaps, the only thing missing is one bloody outstanding classic that would knock you off your feet. But then that is generally the way with comebacks. To quote Pete Townshend in one of his more recent interviews, “if I were to write a hit song now, I wouldn’t even know where to start” (see Endless Wire for further proof). But Here Before prevails: due to its consistency, tunefulness, style, dedication.


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