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27 October 2014

Felt - 'Crumbling the Antiseptic Beauty' (Cherry Red)

Before I ever heard Felt, I read a review of this record and decided they would get points for the title alone. Here's the establishment of the beta-male guitar-god; where jangle climbs the throne and the clean channel rules supreme. It starts with an instrumental, the lengthy 'Evergreen Dazed', which introduces the Felt sound - two tinny guitars, lots of reverb, and a plodding drummer. The lead parts are moody, built around descending melodies and never too flashy. Here, the instruments ring and ring and ring, and when the voice is present (all songs sung by Felt mastermind Lawrence, who I assume is the guy pictured on the front), it's breathy and minus any rock and roll histrionics. This is about as far from Led Zeppelin as rock music can possibly be, and is in alignment with the other plans for the genre established by their brethren of the early 80s - the Cure, Durutti Column, etc. I admit that even though the point of this project is to give these records the solid decent listen they deserve, I found myself tuning out the vocals entirely, letting the guitars carry me into some sort of somnambulistic state. Thus, I'm not sure if the poem 'Crumbling the Antiseptic Beauty' printed on the sleeve contains actual lyrics (since there is no song by this name) or is merely a poem; it does contain the line 'Dazed like evergreen' at the end, but that song is an instrumental. So Lawrence writes and sings lyrics but then only prints entirely different ones on the sleeve - that's something Michael Stipe hadn't even thought of. But back to the music - six long songs, a half-hour total, and it melts into something that feels like a 'statement'. When there's rhythm guitar, it might have a little distortion but from the natural fuzz of an amplifier, as opposed to anything more grungy. The opening chugga-chug of 'Cathedral' feels like something solid you can dig your feet into, planting like roots, and the whole record ends with 'Templeroy', petering out rather than exploding or burning or whatever impulse rock music often tends to produce. This is their debut and I don't really know anything else by them, figuring I'd always find more Felt LPs lying around during my years in the UK (I didn't).

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