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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Françoise Hardy – La Question (1971)

I guess this must be how people expect music from France to be: all breathy and voluminous; sexy…(insert appropriate adjectives here). She is no longer the tall, awkward girl fumbling with her guitar on The Yeh-Yeh Girl From Paris but the femme fatale who is quite aware of her own power over men. Her voice has a certain allure that draws the listener in, which is nicely complimented by Brazilian guitarist Tuca’s sparse pickings – and the orchestra! Wow.  Just wow. It’s hard to pick three songs, damn it all.

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Pulp – Different Class (1995)

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Highlights: Common People, Pencil Skirt, Sorted for E’s and Wizz

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Maurice Deebank – Inner Thought Zone (1984)

If you like the Durutti Column or Aztec Camera then this is perfect for you. Maurice Deebank recorded Inner Thought Zone while still with Felt; he would leave shortly after the making of Ignite The Seven Cannons in 1985. Maurice Deebank was the perfect foil to Lawrence’s poetic raconteur – with his classically trained chops he could conjure a melancholy, dreamy poignance to Felt. He brings that to Inner Thought Zone, with lots of that melancholic jangly sound now complete with wind-swept synths. What is left of Felt’s romantic allure are song titles such as Silver Fountain Of Paradise Square and my personal favourite – A Tale From Scriabin’s Lonely Trail.

Highlights: Golden Hills, Pavane, A Tale From Scriabin’s Lonely Trail

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