Making music. Some just give it up forever. It ain’t easy, you know how hard it can be. For the 99% it’s very far from a financially rewarding, secure or even self-supporting career; rarely good for your health – anti-social hours, some downright shady people and the spotlight looks like a prison break. Why do you do it to yourself? Because you love it, because it’s pure and everything else is somehow tainted, because it’s who, it’s what you are, because it’s all you want to do and ever wanted to do.
In Between is the second album from The Feelies since they re-formed in 2008. On first listen it’s good but wait, it’s a grower. Eschewing commercial studios for the space where they rehearse – amped up with some extra recording equipment – the extra time and attention seriously pays off. Subtle hooks, a sure grasp of the centre of the rhythm and changes that feel like you’ve always known and loved them but somehow, they just snuck up on you this one time. And then they do it again. And again; blessed with production values that tease a fireside vinyl warmth out of the cold, cold ones and zeroes.
From the opening minimalism of title track into the Arthur Lee chord changes and proto-Murmur-esque vocals of ‘Turn Back Time’ there is a sureness and craft to every element that seems to vindicate the message of perseverance in ‘Stay The Course’ “Stay on board…stay the course…keep on trying”. The Feelies have always had a distinct sound: textured acoustic and electric guitars, graceful use of feedback and volume swells, melodic bass, classic kit drumming and certainly it’s all here, but it sounds better, more chilled, more at ease in its own skin. Witness the glorious, down-paced, Smithsy ‘When to Go’ or the understated doo-wop changes and smooth flowing tidal wash of tunefulness that is ‘Make it Clear’ “when you know you’re right, what can you do…”, and it’s sure that this, right now, is the top of their game. For me it’s as good, at least, as their most feted album Crazy Rhythms. Listen to it. All of it. In sequence. Then listen to it again.