05 June 2006

the feeling - "never be lonely" (from the twelve stops and home lp, import available for purchase here.)

the feeling's debut is released today in the uk. they're poised to be the biggest thing to hit the country since the arctic monkeys.

on the surface, they seem like a reaction to that band, the feeling playing it soft and then softer--music for your mother, indeed. a closer listen, though, reveals that they're merely two sides of the same coin. that is, they're all really nice guys.

and yet the press reception for both bands has been glowing, music and mainstream alike, words like "perfect pop"--and "guilty pleasure," too--constants in every write-up of the feeling. until recently, niceness has largely been considered a cardinal sin for a british band; indeed, had either band released their debuts a decade ago, their manners & good behavior would have gotten them as far as gene or dodgy. whence this change of heart?

all roads lead to pete, it would seem. to be fair, pete doherty is a bit like the archduke franz ferdinand : the signs of weariness and strain had all been there; we'd all just been looking for an excuse, any excuse. look at the diminishing returns of each successive oasis album, then contrast that w/ the rise of post-coldplay bands and one gets a sense of exhaustion w/ the laddishness that has driven british pop for at least a decade, if not more; look at the amazon.co.uk top 100 sellers : 1. keane 2. paul simon 3. the feeling. your mom would be so proud.

like your mom, the feeling are resolutely uncool--and what's more, they don't care, though one gets the sense that they protest too much. (more on that shortly.) who do they sound like? elo, andrew gold, 10cc, supertramp, little river band. you know, all the bands whose buttons adorn your jacket, whose patches are on your backpack. there is an almost primitive urge to resist this kind of music; and how could anyone listen to music so politically suspect in the times we live in? and, in asking that question, another reason emerges as to why people have turned away from boorishness and have opted to give peace a chance.

whatever the condition of the world, "love goes on anyway," as a great man once sang. i'd like to recommend this record for more reason than just simply b/c "it's good" but i'm having difficulty; to paraphrase another feeling song, they make my head soft. as chekhov wrote in "about love," one must either, in their reasonings, start from the highest considerations, sin & virtue, or not reason at all. i opt here for the latter.


all right, let me give it a further go.

their timing is doubly good, for not only have they arrived in the era of the new politeness, but they're here in time for summer. the guitars that run through "never be lonely" have a drowsy quality to them, like eyes half-open beneath the shade of an oak tree on a hot summer sunday. the song engenders a feeling of closeness, a hand enlaced w/ your own. "people in love get everything wrong," it repeats several times, maybe including their taste in music, eh? but then there's the chorus : at least they're not lonely. touché.

all, however, is not as placid or serene as it seems. yes, singer dan gillespie-sells's attack on lovers--getting everything wrong, being scared & stupid, &c.--hints at his own anxiety, an anxiety that expresses itself on the stammering, spluttering chorus. "b-b-b-b-baby," he sings, "i think i'm goin' c-c-c-crazy, why should i be sane without you?" then follow the most telling words, "they tell me to fight it, but they can bloody well just try it." (yes, "bloody" is as rude as they get.) right, the anxiety is about love but one also feels that his anxiety is about music press reception--and he should know, being a one-time journo. dan, there's no need to be pre-emptive--"please don't!" certain quarters would beg you--for these are different times we're living in. speak to us unabashedly of love, establish the importance of our domestic sphere, give it meaning; increasingly, it's just about the only thing we have any control over these days. different times is right.

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