07 December 2009

Felt - Forever Breathes the Lonely Word

Felt is one of those bands that I've always meant to listen to, but for one reason or another, just haven't. Someone once mentioned to me that Yo La Tengo, especially in their early years, were clearly influenced by Felt. Yep, they were right. If Ira Kaplan sang more like a mix between Lou Reed and Tom Verlaine, as Felt's main member Lawrence Hayward does, some of these songs would sound indistinguishable between the two bands. "September Lady" has it all- the Hammond organ, 80's treble-heavy arpeggio guitars, and soft female backing "oohs" and "aahs".

The first two songs on this album- "Rain on Crystal Spires" and "Down But Not Yet Out" are upbeat, catchy indie-pop numbers. The Hammond riffs are particularly stand-out on these tracks. "September Lady" changes the pace slightly with a more sentimental bent- it's Marquee Moon's "Guiding Light", if you will. "Grey Streets" is another impressive organ-heavy track with hooks galore.

Unfortunately, the album's centerpiece, "All the People I Like Are Those That Are Dead", doesn't get the job done. It starts slow, and ebbs and flows over its lengthy 5 minutes. Hayward whispers the chorus for much of the last few minutes. Whether it's in an attempt to be creepy or poignant is besides the fact- the song simply meanders. It's long in length and short on ideas.

After this track, it's a little difficult to get back into. "Gather Up Your Wings and Fly" returns to opening form with upbeat guitar and organ, and, once again, those same pleasant backing vocals. However, it's not quite as strong as the first half of the album. "A Wave Crashed on the Rocks" is a bit of a throwaway track. There's nothing wrong with it, it just simply doesn't stand up to the memorable tracks on this album. The closer "Hours of Darkness Have Changed My Mind" is another slow track with little to show for it. "September Girls" would have made a more appropriate closer, though the album is obviously front-loaded, and stuck at the back end that song wouldn't have gotten its just desserts.

Overall the album is definitely something to return to, if only for the upbeat pop songs. It's 80's and British in all the right ways. While the album tries a little too hard in some spots, the only real disaster is "All the People I Like Are Those That Are Dead".

Felt - Forever Breathes the Lonely Word