Wednesday, 16 May 2012

REVIEW: Feeder - Generation Freakshow

In an age where rock bands aren't exactly setting the charts on fire, critics and music fans are demanding more from their favourite groups. A lot of people are wondering who will be the band to do something truly groundbreaking and pull guitar music out of its current vacation from the mainstream. Feeder probably won't be doing that with records like their latest effort, this is without a doubt an album for Feeder fans and anyone who has enjoyed their previous work. If it does get any mainstream exposure then some of these songs are more than capable of winning them new fans, although there isn't a single track here that would appeal to anyone who has ever disliked Feeder's previous output. Why? Because every song here sounds like it could have been pulled from any one of the band's previous seven albums. 

Like me, those with a knowledge of the band's previous work will play this record for the first time and hear just another bunch of Feeder songs. However give it a chance and on the third play the infectious melodies and enjoyable riffs will catch your ear in the same way that the Feeder of the late 90's and early 2000's managed to. But only if you're listening to the good tracks on 'Generation Freakshow'. One such moment is opener 'Oh My', bursting with bright melodic riffage recalling 2001's 'Echo Park', while 'Borders' is a positive tale of escape and delivers one of the group's most bold and anthemic choruses yet. 

This album proves that it's ok for a band to lean on their familiar style and revisit old sounds, just as long as the quality of the songs themselves match the vintage stuff. This becomes a problem during tracks like 'Idaho', which simply sounds like a lazy splicing of 2001's 'We Can't Rewind' and 'Just The Way I'm Feeling', managing to recreate the sound but certainly not the quality. Despite an impressive chorus 'Sunrise' is a rather uninspired moment, and 'Tiny Minds' attempts to disguise a dreary song with fat, sturdy guitars. But you can forgive them when they manage to pull out a tune like 'In All Honesty' where a memorable guitar hook reminiscent of 'Just A Day' joins a lively rhythm and a superb chorus. Feeder haven't sounded this alive in years. 

The same can also be said for the equally exciting 'Headstrong', its raucous riff creating more urgent energy. The title track is just as superb, pairing heaving guitars with a soaring chorus bursting with melody that recalls 2002's classic 'Comfort In Sound' album. 'Hey Johnny' is injected with similar emotional power and provides the most clear and direct tribute yet to Jon Lee, the band's former drummer who committed suicide eleven years ago, while 'Children Of The Sun' closes the album in yearning, epic fashion before a brief low-key hidden track sees out the dying seconds. 

You'll be disappointed if you're expecting radical changes in direction, but despite the lack of new influences, and the inconsistency of this record, 'Generation Freakshow' still manages to stand as the band's finest work in almost a decade. Feeder are aware that they are good at what they do, and half of this album sees them making fine use of their familiar style. 7

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