In 2017, a year already full of such uncertainty, it’s a true joy to have another Feelies album.
Six years ago The Feelies released their first album since reuniting, and now they’re back with their sixth studio album In Between. Back in 2011, the closest many of my generation got to The Feelies was hearing ‘Take Care’ by Drake in the club after a break up. Now The Feelies are reclaiming their name and showing a whole new generation what made them so important the first time around.
The Feelies captured a sound that so many American bands today claim as their USP. In fact, I doubt there’s a single band on Burger Records who wouldn’t cite The Feelies as a major influence. An antithesis to punk, they began using the cleanest guitar tones and rhythms possible. A crazy idea to many at the time, it’s a testament to the band how they avoided cashing in on the punk scene and created a truly unique sound. Nearly 40 years after its release, Crazy Rhythms is still my go to album when cooking. Try it, you will never chop onions with such efficiency and happiness.
There’s always a worry that when a band makes a few albums post-break up that no new ground will be covered, and any subsequent new material will be lacklustre. These fears were immediately quashed after hearing the first few tracks released from In Between. ‘Been Replaced’ is an instant classic – subtle, moody vocals fall over a simplistic, building riff. The lo-fi nature of these tracks makes The Feelies still seem fresh after all this time. ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ is another example of the album’s strength. A scuzzy lead guitar introduces some of the cleanest guitar tones I’ve heard on record in a long time. Honestly I could talk about The Feelies’ guitar tones for a whole review without even discussing this record, but I digress.
The sound of birdsong and a crackling fire fades into the album’s title track ‘In Between’. It has the feel of a campfire song, loaded with call-back harmonies and soft acoustic rhythm. ‘Turn Back Time’ is a brief snippet of pop reminiscent of The Coral or Wilco. The production on the album is impeccable as always, and many of the tracks hark stylistically back to their 1986 album The Good Earth.
The rest of In Between is full of treats too, there’s a real sense of angst in many tracks that delights my inner teenager. ‘Flag Days’ is a foot-tapping, whiskey-drinking kind of track, reminiscent of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, whereas ‘When To Go’ is all hungover longing confined to a record. The Spanish guitar solo at the end of this track is so good I replayed all 20 seconds of it far more than I am willing to admit.
At several points during In Between, in tracks such as ‘Pass The Time’ and ‘Make It Clear’, I get the impression this project is far more introspective than some of The Feelies’ previous LPs. Reflection aside, this record is like an old denim jacket. Its riffs have been worn thousands of times before but they still feel great to wear – and they look great too. They’re masters of their craft, much like Teenage Fanclub – making simplicity sound so fresh and exciting all these years on. After all this time, it’s a true pleasure to enjoy a new Feelies record. 4/5