It has been said that a year is a long time in politics, and how much more so is a decade in indie music. Feeder released their first mini-album, Swim, back in 1996, with plenty of guitars, drums and indie-rock attitude. Their sound was likened by many to Smashing Pumpkins.
Opener Feeling A Moment promises much as its first few bars swoop with guitars and drums, before dropping the pace and the volume right down for the start of the vocals. The guitar presence is felt again in the choruses, but overall the effect is one of restraint. Initially the song is reminiscent of Snow Patrol, with good voice and good melody, but the sense of holding back ultimately leaves the listener unsatisfied.
The use of dynamics appears to be a theme throughout the album, but particularly on new single Tumble And Fall, the title (and best) track on the album Pushing The Senses, and Pilgrim Soul. However, what could in small doses be considered expressive ends up feeling formulaic and even mechanical.
Whilst the best tracks on the album are the rockier Pushing The Senses and Pilgrim Soul, a very close third is the haunting Dove Grey Sands, which has swirling, finger-picking guitar and a rich sonorous voice bringing a laid-back, feel-good vibe and a sense of space like the oceans and sands being sung about.
Feeder is primarily a one-man show, with Grant Nicholas as singer, songwriter, guitarist and erstwhile tinkler of ivories. Mark Richardson’s drums appear incidental in many tracks (Pushing The Senses being the notable exception), while Taka Hirose’s bass is wallpaper except in the rather dull Bitter Glass and the livelier Morning Life.
Nicholas has an undoubted knack for melody, and many of the choruses have you humming along by the second listen. Lyrically too, Nicholas has a poetic way of expressing himself, and phrases linger and resonate like: “Reaching inside of me / Bringing the love I need / The loneliness has gone” (Tender).
In summary, to many people this album will represent a worthy addition to their collections of indie-lite. However, for this listener, the what-might-have-beens found in fleeting glimpses mean it ultimately has to be viewed as a disappointment.