Feeder are a band of endurance. They’ve lost a drummer in tragic circumstances, been deleted from BBC Radio 1 playlists, fallen down the pecking order of festival stages and taken a lengthy hiatus. They’ve never been a critics’ favourite either. But they’ve never gone away, not truly, and right now they are on something of a resurgence, even if they do say so themselves.
Their comeback album in 2016, All Bright Electric, was just that – electrifying. Hard, fuzzy riffs ignited the ears in a way that Feeder hadn’t managed to for over a decade, but those riffs were interspersed with songs of an emotional delicacy, akin to those on Comfort in Sound and Pushing the Senses. It was one of Feeder’s strongest albums to date, striking that perfect balance between their heavier and softer sides. They followed this with a Best Of, the deluxe edition of which came with its own album of original songs, though many of these followed more a standard, stock template. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, but it wasn’t All Bright Electric good.
So now we’re at Tallulah, the third original set of songs in this resurgence. If truth be told, it isn’t one of their strongest albums, but there’s still plenty to enjoy. “Old-school” is a term that has been bandied around a lot about this album, with songs such as ‘Daily Habit’ and ‘Kite’ exerting strong similarites with their vast selection of b-sides. This isn’t a bad thing; Feeder’s b-side game has been incredibly strong over the years. ‘Fear of Flying’ is also classic Feeder, hard in the verses with a soaring chorus that will make it a live favourite on their upcoming UK tour. If you’re looking for riffy Feeder, look no further than ‘Kyoto’, though this song never quite fully commits to the heavy sound and fails to live up to its potential as a result.
As is typical with Feeder, the standout songs are those that stray away from their normal sound. ‘Rodeo’, for example, sounds more like it should be a part of the late, great Tom Petty’s back catalogue. Though he is a primary source of influence on songwriter Grant Nicholas, never before has it been so evident. It’s a cracking song, pulled straight of the 1970’s, which makes it sound oddly refreshing in 2019. ‘Guillotine’ sounds a lot like ‘Down to the River’ from their 2010 album Renegades, but it’s a significant improvement, sounding stronger and more refined.
The title track of ‘Tallulah’ is by far and away the strongest song on this album. ‘Oh Tallulah, so peculiar’ Nicholas laments, over a mysterious chord progression and arpeggiated synth. It seems that he writes his strongest songs when he’s trying to figure out a mystery; it was the same case on All Bright Electric with the superb ‘Infrared-Ultraviolet’.
Filler tracks complete this album; ‘Shapes and Sounds’ just about exists, and ‘Lonely Hollow Days’ should really be on his solo record Yorktown Heights. There’s something for everyone here, but it doesn’t stand out as much as All Bright Electric did. It’s an enjoyable album and certainly has its moments, but they’re capable of more, so it’s difficult to get past a feeling of slight disappointment. It was better on second listen, mind, so give it a few listens before coming to your final conclusions as it may grow on you. Feeder have a habit of that, and long may it, and they, continue.