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Feeder - 'Tallulah' Album Review


1. Youth

2. Blue Sky Blue

3. Daily Habit

4. Fear Of Flying

5. Rodeo

6. Tallulah

7. Shapes And Sounds

8. Guillotine

9. Kyoto

10. Kite

11. Windmill

12. Lonely Hollow Days

Its been over twenty years since Feeder came bouncing onto the scene in a Brit Pop dominated mid to late nineties. The band had an ability for writing some of the catchiest Pop Rock songs while being able to turn up at any Rock or Pop festival and fitting in. The trio, occasionally expanding to a quartet, worked hard constantly touring and building their fan base up naturally, weathering the passing of their original drummer Jon Lee with dignity. Despite becoming the band Renegades for a while and also taking a couple of years off, Grant Nicholas (vocals and guitars) and Taka Hirose (bass) have notched up a solid set of releases as Feeder. 2019 sees the band release their eleventh studio album "Tallulah", twelve songs that take the listener on quite a journey that leans on their collective past without becoming a tribute to their own sound.

Opener 'Youth' reminds me of seeing them several times in my younger days. It's typical Feeder: upbeat and laden with hooks, before an anthemic ‘Blue Sky Blue’ with a chorus of “sometimes we get it wrong sometimes we get it right” reminds you that Grant’s lyrics can reach through the negativity going on in the outside world and nudge you towards the positivity that exists out there. ‘Daily Habit’ feels like the grown up version of ‘Seven Days In The Sun’, or at least its older brother. Its build sounds familiar while still sounding fresh to the ears.

Feeder’s older era is again revisited with ‘Fear Of Flying’, another anthem wrapped up in sugary Pop Rock. How the hell did this band not become huge? How did their skill for writing songs not get them to places that their peers reached, only for their peers to crash and burn, especially when you compare them to Feeder’s consistency and longevity? ‘Rodeo’ sees the band reign in the pace a little, at times taking lessons in melody learned from the Beatles and giving them a newer generational spin, while ‘Tallulah’ adds another gear to the mid album mellower pace, a chilled Psychedelic Pop epic that the likes of Muse wish they could write.

Side two’s (remember those?) pick me up starts with ‘Shapes And Sounds’, a steady paced rocker reaffirms the band revisiting an older sound that still sounds fresh and without plagiarising themselves, reminding you why you loved the band so much when you were younger. The unusual swing of ‘Guilotine’ allows the song to be built on a strummed acoustic guitar and some layers of strings and keyboards. Feeder always had a knack for taking the parameters of what they were playing with and pushing them in ways that helped really set them aside from other bands that were part of the Brit Rock scene. A bottom heavy riff ‘Kyoto’ sounds so heavy compared to the rest of the album. It’s here where you start noticing something that’s been present on the entire album. Previously Grant’s vocals always sat in a higher key, helping give them a really poppy feel, but now he’s singing in a lower key compared to their older material. Again, you will hear harmonies but now it’s the higher vocal lines that help fill these parts out, helping to give the songs a lift where needed. Clever work by the band and the arrangements they have with their songs.

‘Kite’ feels like a bit of a mis-step on the album, something with it just doesn’t feel quite right to me. It's not a bad song but reminds me more of one of the b-sides that they used to write with ease. ‘Windmill’ quickly dismisses any memories of the previous song. It starts big, drops right down for the verses and builds again on the chorus, adhering to the classic quiet-loud blueprint pioneered by the likes of The Pixies and Nirvana in the past, before the almost frantic finger picked verse of the album’s final song ‘Lonely Hollow Days’. Musically it’s a fitting contrast to Grant’s gentle vocals, giving the song an almost uneasy, anxious edge. It’s the perfect way to bring the album to a close, it holds the listener in its arms and reminds that there’s a better life out there to be lived.

Feeder now live in a continuity where they only follow their own rules. In this world the likes of ‘High’ and ‘Buck Rodgers’ were anthemic hits that were needed to combat the likes of Oasis and Coldplay who were always fetted more by the likes of the NME and Radio One in the nineties. Feeder were always a band that could do the huge hits and still provide you with the melancholy ballad you wished you could have written yourself to mark the lost love of your life. “Tallulah” shows that the band still have that song writing skill in abundance but they’re happy in pleasing themselves rather than pandering to the latest media trend and they’re a much better band because of it.

Review - Scott Hamilton

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