Has it really been only four years since Feeder’s last album? It seems like much longer. They have fallen somewhat from the public consciousness from the days of ‘Buck Rogers’, ‘Just A Day’ and ‘Just The Way I’m feeling’. Following from the death of drummer Jon Lee in 2002, the band steered away from their pop rock milieu to more serious fare.
The move alienated much of their fan base and subsequent albums sold in decreasing quantities. Kerrang! magazine, which had previously championed the band called them a “Radio friendly unit shifter” and compared them to Coldplay, with whom Feeder toured in 2004. Lead singer and guitarist Grant Nicholas announced an indefinite hiatus for the band in 2012 and after some solo activity Nicholas, Karl Brazil (drums) and Taka Hirose (bass) are back with their ninth album, All Bright Electric.
The Welsh trio released lead single ‘Universe Of Life’ back in July and anyone hoping for a return of the band that produced the aforementioned belters will be given succour by its hard rocking riffing and catchy chorus. The song has another side though with a slower, more contemplative section displaying a songwriting maturity that you would expect from an experienced writer like Nicholas. It’s a great start to the album but it gives a false indication of the direction of the album.
Recent single ‘Eskimo’ is more akin to latter period Feeder than the indie-rock band than first won hearts and minds in the ‘90s. It combines Paul Weller guitars with ‘60s/‘70s psychedelia of The Kinks and The Small Faces. It’s a grower of a tune and not what one might have expected from the band. ‘Geezer’ and ‘Paperweight’ try hard to maintain the energy levels but there is something missing from them and they whizz by without much impact. There’s little on here that feels essential and much of this album would sound better in the context of Nicholas’ solo career than on a Feeder album.
It's hard to decide whether the likes of ‘Oh Mary’ and ‘Another Day On Earth’ are brave moves or safe, calculated ones. All Bright Electric is unlikely to win the band new fans. It lacks the spark to command the attention and after a couple of tracks it fades into anonymity.