Forty years is an amazing anniversary to reach for anyone – even though we’ve been seeing it a great deal lately with the punk and new wave bands of the mid-to-late ’70’s. So although it should come as no surprise, New Jersey’s truly legendary Feelies are now celebrating their 40th. It’s quite a milestone. And to mark that wonderful number, they’re releasing a brand new studio album, In Between. It’s already going on six years since their last effort, Here Before, but this one is, indeed, just a bit special. 40 has a lot of meaning. Longevity, desire, appreciation – any number of words could do, but call it what you will, The Feelies still have that youthful, quirky/odd exuberance that they’ve shown from their debut Crazy Rhythms through to now. Interestingly (certainly to me), this line-up: founders Bill Million and Glenn Mercer, Stan Demeski, Brenda Sauter and Dave Weckerman – have been the solid roster for over 30 of those 40 years. Recorded at Mr. Mercer’s home studio, these ten new tracks are simply the next chapter in The Feelies’ quite-formidable history.
Starting with the title track, “In Between”, it’s a sweet, soft acoustic droning sound that (as much as I don’t want to say it) has that Velvet Underground feel, but certainly, this has a greater warmth than others who have tried to emulate the Velvets (or The Feelies, for that matter); “Turn Back Time” reminds me a lot of The Byrds’ “Why” (not a bad thing by any stretch) and is an easy, early standout (I also love the clean, sparse sound of the guitars with one strumming unfettered by effects and one playing delicate melodies); the use of crisp 7th chords on the opening of “Stay The Course” gives it a slightly psychedelic feel, especially with the low-mixed vocals and “Been Replaced”, which has been making the rounds as the leadoff track, is a sit-up-and-take notice piece, as it goes from a steady acoustic stream to controlled drama with the heavier guitar coming in halfway through and the sustained notes permeating to the end. “Gone Gone Gone” is, to me, the other highpoint with its strident tempo and “pop” feel – radio friendly? You bet. Should it be on every station? In a perfect world.
And although this is by no means a perfect world, having a new album from The Feelies – and after 40 years since they first presented themselves – does make things a little bit more balanced and tolerable. And by the way – it doesn’t matter how long they’ve been around or how sporadically they release something, they still know how to make fantastic music and that’s what this album is. Fantastic.
A doff of my cap to The Feelies.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – ESSENTIAL LISTENING
In Between will be released on Friday, February, 24th, 2017