Release Date: Feb 24, 2017
Record label: Bar/None Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, American Underground, Jangle Pop, College Rock
In 2011, when the Feelies released their first album in 20 years, it came with hints of indecision. It was called Here Before--possibly as in "been there, done that"--and began with the lyric "Is it too late to do it again?/Or should we wait another 10?" The music certainly sounded confident, in the breezy but determined style that the New Jersey quintet patented around the time of their second album, 1986's The Good Earth. But you could forgive diehards for wanting clearer signs that the Feelies were back to stay.
Few bands can claim a career-best album 40 years down the line, but The Feelies are one of them. Granted, this is only their sixth album, but with a focus on quality rather than quantity it should come as no surprise that their sound - very much informed by the Velvet Underground's third album - has left its indelible mark, from R.E.M.'s earliest efforts through to modern-day practitioners such as Ultimate Painting. The Feelies' grip of melody remains very much in place throughout, as do their love of jangling intertwining guitars and a strict sense of rhythm.
The Feelies’ new record opens with the sound of a crackling campfire and chirping birds, an implication of contentment in place and time. Then there’s that defining strum, the jangly interplay of guitarists Glenn Mercer and Bill Million. Mercer’s voice enters, speak-singing in a worn whisper “Make a plan / Let it be”, seeming to echo that initial impression of peace.
The Upshot: The band sounds relaxed, confident that it can deliver its songs without overloading on its trademark sound. BY MICHAEL TOLAND The Feelies have always been the kings of jangle rock. The New Jersey quintet's Byrds-meets-Television guitar clatter defined the hordes of college rock guitar bands that followed them as sharply as that of their peers R.E.M.
After four albums, the last three with the same lineup as their current incarnation, New Jersey legends The Feelies broke up abruptly in 1992 when guitarist Bill Million left to move to Florida. They reunited in 2008 at the behest of Sonic Youth to play the annual July 4th show at New York's Battery Park. Since then, they've released 2011's Here Before and played many shows.
In Between, the Feelies' sixth album, opens with the sound of a campfire and crickets, and if that is meant to suggest this is the work of happy campers throwing a hootenanny, well, that's truer than one might imagine. The Feelies usually make music that's propelled by a relentless nervous energy generated by catchy, minimalist melodies and layers of hyperactive percussion, but 2017's In Between dials back a bit on the tempos as well as the electric guitars. Melodically, this is instantly recognizable as the Feelies, but not the coffee-fueled rave-ups of 1980's Crazy Rhythms or 1991's Time for a Witness.
A weekly round-up of must-hear music recommended by Times staffers. This week's picks include the latest from veteran cult-favorites the Feelies, as well as new music from Jessie James Decker and Rose Cousins. The Feelies, "In Between" (Bar None) Hoboken, N.J., band the Feelies have issued a mere six albums over its four decades as a band, each a minimalist masterpiece of guitar-strummed energy and propellant rhythms.
The sleeve of the first Feelies record, Crazy Rhythms, sported a close-up of tiles from singer-guitarist Glenn Mercer's bathroom. How's that for domestic? The Feelies have never shied from certain facts. They are people of few words; every song on In Between, which they recorded during their 40th year of existence, has a two or three syllable title, and the lines in their songs aren't much longer.
The Feelies are a band of few words. Guitarist Glenn Mercer sings in epigrams, his songs more like haikus braided with guitars and percussion that gently pull things along until a kind of serene momentum has developed, almost before the listener knows it. Since 1980, the New Jersey quintet has put out a mere six albums, with "In Between" (Bar None) their first in six years.