Soft rock has been making an unlikely comeback oflate. Power ballads of the 1980s that were seeminglydead have been resurrected for drive timecompilations, bands like ELO are experiencing asales renaissance, and a section of today’s new bandsare ready to capitalize on this good fortune.
On The Feeling’s home page, singer Dan GillespieSells vindicates his band’s approach to music,stating, “There are no guilty pleasures any more.You’re allowed to like Andrew Gold, ELO,Supertramp or 10cc. It’s reallyliberating”.
With this off their chests his quintet The Feelingset out to achieve their goal, updating their ownguilty pleasures for the summer of 2006. Add this toan obvious songwriting talent, and you have a debutalbum laden with hooks, quotable vocal snips and a fewoverindulgences. It will then suddenly dawn on thelistener that while the band are unashamedlyderivative there’s a gap in the market for what theydo, to the obvious delight of the UK’s commercialradio stations.
Singles Sewn and Fill My Little World are popnuggets. The former, tinged with a grey melancholy, ismade of the softest rock and recallsSupertramp, though here in extended versionover elaborates at the end. Meanwhile the upwardlooking latter is punchier and feels better, in amanner bands like Semisonic used to do in thelate 1990s. Both make the transition from the studioto middle of the brain with ease, and refuse to leaveonce there.
It’s clear the band have a soft spot forharmonisation, Jeff Lynne style, of which NeverBe Lonely is a prime example. Love It When You Calldips into this, and is possibly the most memorablesong on the album, Sells singing, “what’s thecomplication, it’s only conversation”.
Armed with these formidable pop weapons, TheFeeling also put plenty of emotion into their songs.The tender Ros� is a case in point, Sells exploringhis feminine side over a single piano line. The songgradually builds but doesn’t overdo it, impressivelyreigning in at the end. This isn’t always the case,and chief culprit Same Old Stuff yields to a hugelyinflated guitar solo, the song lost in themeantime.
You’ll gather from this that The Feeling aren’t aband for macho men who like to rock. But there’ssomething appealing about their brand of music withits light, sunny harmonies and direct choruses. It’smusic that adheres to the basic principles of pop, andlooks likely to be rewarded for doing so with a highplace in the charts this summer.