Release Date: Apr 23, 2012
Record label: Kranky
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Chamber Pop
Chamber pop inherently gets a bad rap. Granted, ethereal female voices sometimes have a tendency to blend into the same lilting tales of lost love, afternoons in parks, and birds soaring across azure skies when you hear a track while strolling through Anthropologie. Yet occasionally a more sinister, brooding element lies well-hidden underneath gentle layers of piano and crooning vocals.
With Kranky-released debut You Are The One I Pick, Felix cast into the lake eleven pebbles that would linger long after their ripples faded. Think Slint’s fractious post-rock masterpiece Spiderland: here was a record whose immense delicacy smothered its underlying menace with elegance and poignancy. A record offering not only escapism - seriously, ‘bewitching’ doesn’t come close - but whose brutal affections and nuances would be teased out and yearned for in quiet moments for months to come, like an estranged sibling stuffing esoteric messages into a bottle tossed through your bedroom window.
When I think of Kranky Records, I think of artists producing the sort of moody ambient soundscapes that dwell in the liminal spaces of the mind. Although perhaps best known for releasing music by the monolithic Godspeed You! Black Emperor, in recent years, the label’s most cherished releases are the intimate and ethereal drones of Tim Hecker, Grouper, and Stars of the Lid. Felix, on the other hand, is something of a departure.
FelixOh Holy Molar[Kranky; 2012]By Ray Finlayson; July 16, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetStream: Felix - "Oh Thee 73" There are lyrics, but then there is poetry. Where the line is drawn can sometimes be hard to tell, and that’s usually because an artist has managed to turn their words into something that sounds like it was meant to be sung. Justin Vernon comes to mind, especially with regard to the lyrics on last year's Bon Iver, Bon Iver: before the album was officially released he posted all the lyrics online.
The English trio Felix make music that is unsettlingly intimate, as if singer and songwriter Lucinda Chua were confiding in the listener as a close friend. "Confessional" music typically has an implied barrier between the singer and the audience-- at least some sense that there is mediation that keeps listeners aware that they are voyeurs-- but Chua's music, though clearly addressed to particular people, doesn't seem to draw that line. The result is music that is intense and obviously personal, but slightly disorienting: It's a bit like having a stranger tell you all their secrets while you try to keep track of the concrete details.
There’s always a certain type of band that’s had to endure the expectation drop-off and after a while there were more buzz bands that fell prey to that drop-off instead of surpassing it. So, thanks be to Felix for not becoming another faceless band that set high expectations with their first record only to suffer backlash on their second. Part of it may be due to the fact that their first record wasn’t as heavily praised and scrutinized as some are but it’s more than likely mostly due to the band taking the time and care to develop.