Every band has their own process, and appears as if The Features embrace a process of tireless writing that leaves the band with loads of materials as they sit down to craft their next album. The Nashville indie rockers have been prolific since 2004, with six releases in that span and more seemingly always on the way. On their latest self-titled LP, The Features present their typical amalgam of psychedelic, Southern, and garage rock. Although fit with a few very inspired moments, there does appear to be a brevity to the proceedings that at times borders on sloppiness. Some of the imperfections can be overlooked as rough edges on a fairly impressive whole, and overall the album presents an intriguing array of sounds and styles with a charismatic frontman in Matt Pelham.
The album opens on a high note with “Rotten,” which finds life in a bracing keyboard line that serves as the perfect bed for Pelham’s vocals to sprawl out upon. It’s a nice introduction to Pelham’s vocal style, which is rarely clean but makes up for any flaws through pure emotional sincerity. “Tenderly” acts as an even better showcase for what he can do by opening with with a delicate, slightly unhinged tone. It soon breaks into a cathartic crescendo that may be the album’s most forthright punk moment, allowing “Tenderly” to come emotionally full circle and assert itself as one of the highlights of the album. “This Disorder” moves in a slightly more pop rock direction and is fairly unique on an album that seems to settle firmly into either garage/Southern rock or psychedelia. It works by being both affecting and strangely catchy. “With Every Beat” is the exemplar of the album’s psychedelic direction, and it sees Pelham belting out some vocals that are tonally reminiscent of Phil Collins.
The album can get bogged down by some songs that don’t really go anywhere and, as whole, the album seems to vacillate between moments of really inspired rock and expendable filler. For every “Fox on the Run” that just kind of sits there and adds nothing, there’s a song like “The New Romantic,” which is fun, energized and sounds like a solid track from David Bowie’s latest album.
It’s tempting to deem this album as “light,” even with its fairly maudlin opening songs. There’s emotion throughout this album, but there really isn’t much emotional depth. Topics are explored at a fairly surface level, then chucked aside for some sensual rock songs. Yet, although nothing on this album is all that dense, there’s still an endearing sincerity to the proceedings that only occasionally drifts into frivolity (such as that somewhat confusing guitar solo at the end of “Regarding PG”). In the end, The Features’ latest is an album with some moments worth appreciating, but very little that will linger with you for a while.