Feels fosters a fervent desire to cast yourself out into the world, to be
engaged with others, to risk all safety. Squalls of guitars, raging, laughing, moaning, howling down the gullies, upsetting gently lapping waves of piano and plush trumpet scales, drive through wide stretches of air like smoke, and the desperate battle between rollicking drums and raspy vocal melodies continually rings in your ears. The tempo is jittery, gay, tinged with a naïve innocence, pestered by the dreamy sadness of hermits. Most pieces stand as a patchwork of percussive clatter, the deep, groaning sighs of wind instruments, dotted by the insectile prance and chirp of electronics and sustained by Avey Tare's
slapdash nasal warble.
Despite the kitchen-sink approach to composition, and the band's penchant for
turbulent, untamed excursions in song, these works bear the mark of meditation,
of deliberation and self-questioning; whereas previous efforts pursued the realms
of improvisation, leaving the moment as it was, cracked and plagued by blemishes,
these songs seem to have had copious drafts and heed the advice of traditional
song structures. And, though it be true that the faces of "Bees" and "The Purple
Bottle" are more taut, more coherent, less gnawed by flecks of electronics and
soaring, alien sonar blips, there still remains a light dusting of harmonium
or spluttering trumpet drone to belly out the sail of this album and carry it
Still, the idyllic interlude has havoc wrought upon it by the group's rather
formulaic excursion into pastures of twisted pop the sort found so readily
in any number of artists presently fornicating, as it were, in the once-ripe
plains of free folk or new weird Americana. This is not to say that the band
proves unconvincing in this regard; on the contrary, they are quite adept at
spawning a regal countenance through resplendent chimes, tentative rainbow-harmonies
and the helter-skelter splash of drums and gaudy vocal melodies. Yet, after successive
listens, one feels inclined to trumpet a certain protest: this archetype of merriment,
of bathing mirthfully in the muddled majesty of nature, is contrived, largely
owing to the fact that this approach, once spurred by a desire to escape coercion,
is now itself coerced.
Nonetheless, there is much here that will bewitch the senses. "Banshee Beat,"
for example, is swept up by a blustery piano figure while Avey Tare's high-pitched
chirp directs a muffled roar of percussion through a distant landslide of rustic,
ringing guitar chords. "Loch Raven," meanwhile, is temperate and of a more dignified
gait, buoyed by glistening electronic pulses, light snare swats and the warmth
of breathy voices spilling out over the hills. Although surprisingly self-conscious
at moments, Feels
remains rife with a triumphant beauty, a bucolic sound that stirs and entrances
the listener like a happy secret.