Issued next week by Bar/None, the impressive Here Before has,
truth in titling, a welcome whiff of déjà vu for fans.
By Michael Toland
Throughout their history, it
was never unusual for the Feelies to take long breaks, but the nearly two
decades that passed between the release of Time
For a Witness and the quintet’s 2008 reactivation was excessive even by
their standards. A couple of years later, Hoboken’s favorite sons and daughter
casually offer up album 5, a mere 20 years after the release of the last one.
Though keeping some of the
loose vibe of Time, for the most part
Here Before picks up right where Only Life, the band’s 1988 masterpiece,
left off. Or, more precisely, stays the course set by that LP, with a
collection of tracks revolving around steady rhythms, briskly strummed rhythm guitars
and sedate vocals and sublimely tasteful solos courtesy of leader Glenn Mercer.
Throw a dart at the songlist and you’ll come up with a winner – the sharp warmth
of “Nobody Knows,” the garage fuzz of “Time is Right,” the itchy propulsion of
“On and On,” the bright jangle of “Way Down,” the elegiac balladry of the title
In a nutshell, the Feelies do
what they do best, and if that means a record with few surprises, it also means
a level of consistency and quality few veteran acts of any era can match