In rotation: The Feelies' 'Here Before'
A series in Sunday Calendar about what Times writers & contributors are listening to right now...
One could be forgiven for having overlooked the Feelies. After all, “Here Before” is only the fifth album from the New Jersey act, and the first in two decades. Yet newcomers shouldn’t feel intimidated or late to the game, as “Here Before” has the comfortable sense of familiarity that the title implies.
“Is it too late to do it again?” singer Glenn Mercer asks to open the album, and then he proceeds to answer his own question. It isn’t long before he settles into a contentedly bare monotone, and behind him his band mates lock into a jangly little treat of a pop tune. The tempo never strays too far from the middle of the spectrum — a bit more tension is added to “Time is Right” and “Change Your Mind” tones things down with apathy — as the Feelies are often a study in doing more with less.
Backing vocals are delicately placed (“Should Be Gone”), and any adornments are slowly introduced and woven into the fabric of the song (the sleigh bells in “Later On”). When the melancholic beauty of “So Far” gently rocks the album to a close, highlighted with reserved, almost delicate guitar tones, it’s clear that a little can go a long way.
— Todd Martens