Felt – The Splendour Of Fear

Folder

  • Released: 1984 on Cherry Red Records
  • Genre: Indie Pop, Dream Pop

What I love about Felt is how Lawrence and Maurice Deebank shared the same spirit in aesthetics. Their song titles seem to have been carefully stringed together with the most ornate words of the English dictionary, with a dash of Lawrence’s eccentricity. Combined with Deebank’s classically-trained background, which allowed him to drop elegantly melancholic Spanish melodies against Lawrence’s acerbic poetry with ease, the early Felt line-up produced a tier of top-class albums that still sound pretty amazing some 30 odd years on.

The Splendour Of Fear is a pretty special album in the early Felt canon, mainly because of Lawrence’s magnanimous attitude towards Deebank’s guitar-playing ability. Indeed, four out of the six tracks are instrumental in nature. It isn’t a bad thing though. Out of their entire discography, this is the most elegiac-sounding record and the essential gist of the Lawrence/Deebank partnership. The World Is As Soft As Lace betroths Deebank’s pearly guitar line to Lawrence’s Verlaine-esque warble, which also features a favourite Felt line of mine:

And all my great plans get blurred
By the softest touch, the gentlest word.

In The Stagnant Pool, Lawrence’s obtuse lyrics take on a much more macabre feel with vague biblical references, delivered with Deebank’s guitar playing that borders on pathos:

The stagnant pool,
Like a drowned coffin,
Still as a deceased heart,
Haunting the ghost of the noble crusader

A Preacher In New England shimmers, blurs and melts into a blinding pool of emotion, with Deebank creating his own brand of wordless through his guitar. He recalls huge cathedrals of sound that twist and wind artfully at his fingers, making your heart skip a beat – and then finally leaps into wondrous oblivion, fading out like a receding dream.

It should be noted that Maurice Deebank left Felt shortly after recording The Splendour Of Fear, and also subsequently recorded his only record Inner Thought Zone in the same year. There are similar parallels to this and The Splendour Of Fear, so you might want to check out Inner Thought Zone as well if you liked this.

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SoundCloud Pick : Japanese Breakfast – Everybody Wants To Love You

Shiny guitars that mesh with the chorus “EVERYBODY WANTS TO LUUV YOU” so well, and then burst in a glorious mess of violent colour.  Holy shit. *hits repeat*

Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t

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  • Artist: Jens Lekman
  • Released: 2012 on Secretly Canadian Records
  • Genre: Indie Pop

Long story short – I forgot to take my music player to work today, and this was the only album I had on my phone. Good to make back-up plans in advance, no? It also turned out that I hadn’t listened to it yet, which is a major no-no because I like listening to familiar, well-worn albums to warm myself up. Was my Thursday morning going to be ruined?

Fuck no. Part of me stubbornly hangs on to sunny optimism, so I shrug.

I tentatively start playing it…and my niggling grouse instantly vanishes. The fairy-esque piano intro of Every Little Hair Knows Your Name makes everything right again. My Thursday morning isn’t ruined after all.

I am immediately enchanted by Erica America; by the gorgeous layers of lovingly plucked Spanish guitar lines, sprightly piano, swooning female vocal and Jens Lekman’s introspective voice intertwining seamlessly with each other. This is music meant for lazy Sunday mornings, where you wait for a cuppa at the swanky coffee shop, battering away at your iPad in the queue.  Jens Lekman sings about love, girls and seemingly random things that hint at much more beneath the surface. It also reminds me strongly of Craft Spells’s second album, but with a more expansive feel. By the time I get to the last song, also confusingly titled Every Little Hair Knows Your Name, the album loops back to Erica America, and I eventually get the chorus stuck in my head. “How natural it actually sounds!” I think, and listen to it some more.

This album managed to surprise me – the minimalist design led me to think that it was a possible electronic project…but they say you can’t judge a book by its cover. Seems like it’s the same with records. Oh well.

Here’s that pleasant earworm I was talking about just now: Erica America!

 

 

 

Serenaide – The Other End Of The Receiver

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  • Artist: Serenaide
  • Year released: 2005 on Fruit Records
  • Genre: Indie pop

“Wow, the list could go on and on. Yes, The Smiths definitely! They’re legendary along with The Stone Roses. I’m also into bands like Lightning Seeds, New Order, Franz Ferdinand, Depeche Mode, Stereo MC.. basically, stuff that makes me want to put on my dancing shoes!” – Lead singer Pheyroz on their musical influences and favourite music

This debut from Serenaide was their only album, unfortunately – but it’s a brilliant ode to the music of yesteryear – think innocent, jangly tunes of the C86 scene criss-crossing with the archness of Pulp – and the sexual swing of Suede.

I present to you: The Other Side Of The Receiver!

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Records on repeat for the week

Hello, hello!

Nah I haven’t abandoned this blog yet, if you were wondering. I’ve been busy with real life (and annoying bouts of Word Streak With Friends, oops) but I’ll post some records that I’ve been listening to lately.

Craft Spells – Nausea (2014)

Gorgeously crafted melodies with a crisp, airy production. The pianos leave their dainty footsteps on the sonic landscapes that Justin Vallesteros creates, complete with lush violins. On songs like Twirl and Breaking The Angle Against The Tide, the guitar lines are reminiscent of the Pastels and Felt. On the whole, the album makes for a refreshing listen.

Highlights: Komorebi, Laughing For My Life, Breaking The Angle Against The Tide

Rip, Rig + Panic – God (1981)

In the same tier as The Pop Group (Gareth Sager and Bruce Smith were from the band) but with Neneh Cherry (yes, the Buffalo Stance singer!) and Andrea Oliver on vocals and a much funkier rhythm section. On Try Box Out Of This Box, the band mixes dub elements with a swooning saxophone and jazzy pianos. As a whole, the album isn’t as frustrating as Y, but the vocals are quite wild!

Highlights: Knee Deep In Shit, These Eskimo Women Speak Frankly, It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Brrod 

The Other Two – The Other Two & You (1994)

I absolutely adore New Order’s music, and this is no exception. The duo, made up of Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert – the brilliant drummer and the lovely lady responsible for some of the synths on New Order records – show the world what they’re made of. Selfish, with its airy melancholia and Gillian’s girlish vocals begs for repeated listening. I love how the album starts out all synthy and almost teenybopper-y but then hits you in the face with harder tracks like The Ninth Configuration. This was recorded a year after New Order’s Republic, but Gillian’s vocals inject a bubbly optimism which is not evident in Republic.

Highlights: Selfish, Innocence, Loved It (The Other Track)

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