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My teenage self would have squeaked with glee had it known that 20 years on it would be writing a review of a new Feelies album. Having spend a large portion of my adolescence sitting alone thumbing through back issues of Q magazine, The Feelies were one of those names (like The Sneetches, Game Theory, The Shoes) that sprung out of the page when a comparison to REM was mooted.
The Feelies actually started out like some kind of Talking Heads, Modern Lovers cross breed but by 1988 were producing wonderful pastoral guitar pop that owed something to the gentle college rock of early Stipe & Co. Anyway a mere 20 years after what I presumed was their final album, 'Time for a Witness', here they are with a brand new batch of songs. At their age (Glen Mercer must be about 80 now?) they are not going to attempt to re-create the nervy energy of their '70's output so what we get is something that could easily have followed their 80's work, the recently re-issued 'The Good Earth' and the criminally ignored 'Only Life'. Hugely influenced by The Velvet Underground, their songs are simple, almost singalong at times but expertly produced with lovely intertwining electric and acoustic guitars strumming away.
It needs a couple of spins for the subtle melodies to spring through, lyrics and vocals have never really been their strong point but its an overall laid back, summery vibe that ensures that the album is a lovely listen from start to finish despite the lack of killer melody. Listening again its quite amazing how much Yo La Tengo have drawn influence from The Feelies, I'd hazard a guess that Galaxie 500 may have been taking notes too. A lovely, unexpected return from a fine, underrated band, now for a show or two in the United Kingdom perchance?
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- Here Before by The Feelies
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