Just two years ago Feeder celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary by releasing a greatest hits LP, The Best Of. The Best Of saw Feeder be extremely generous by offering fifty songs which included nine new original songs. Whilst the synchronicity of the nine songs could have been further developed; nonetheless, there were some exceptional standout tracks. Furthermore, synchronicity and a change in musical direction are both more appropriately assessed with a new studio album. This is where album number ten, Tallulah, comes in. With bassist Taka Hirose having just turned fifty-two and frontman Grant Nicholas on the cusp of turning fifty-two; a more mature musical direction will be expected.
Whilst there is no immediate indication that Feeder has taken a more mature musical approach, Tallulah opener, “Youth”, instantly invades the listener with its powerful tenacity, fresh energy alongside Beach Boys-style sound harmonies. Whilst “Youth” may lack maturity, it’s also void of apathy and cynicism putting it on a par with Just a Day.
The innovation kicks in with “Tallulah”, sharing the same title as the album, “Tallulah” enchants with immense spiritual elements and mysticism amidst innovative electronic elements and raw drums and percussion backdrop. Alongside this, classic raw Feeder guitar riffs accompany this song to create a cacophonous melting pot of sound. More psychedelic glory is captured with the love-themed track, “Kite”, with its fantastic use of the organ. “Kite” also retains Feeder’s signature and distinguished ruffled sound amongst heavy intense guitars making “Kite” a pleasing and most importantly, an unexpected experience.
“Kite” is preceded by “Kyoto”. Despite the predictable opening lyrics “Cheery blossom, Japanese”, “Kyoto” redeems itself through its raw, expedited, deep ruffled guitars which deftly align the musical worlds of rock and nu-metal. Whilst many of the elements cannot easily be described as original; Kyoto’s ability to excite and galvanise make it feel like another new refreshing experience. The most unexpected and in terms of musical direction, probably the most progressive on Tallulah, is playout track, “Lonely Hollow Days”. Acoustic and devoid of heavy electric guitars, “Lonely Hollow Days” is a soft and smoothing folk-rock tune with chimes an organs reminiscent to Passenger’s more acclaimed hits.
Whilst Tallulah plays out victoriously, in many places it underwhelms. The opportunity for Feeder to experiment and evolve their musical sound on Tallulah is not taken. For the most part, the other tracks fall back on the safety blanket of their established sound and seldom difference can be detected to the material taken from The Best Of. Whilst there are occasional poignant lyrics such as the need to “breathe in better air” on “Blue Sky Blue” and a discussion of “the soundtrack of our live’s” on “Rodeo” and the philosophical questioning of “Why can’t we grow old naturally?” on “Fear Of Flying” get overlooked due to the banality of the sound that for the most part remains trapped in the first half of the noughties.
The term Tallulah is popularly defined as meaning “Leaping Waters”. When Feeder took the courageous leaps into unchartered territory, they succeeded and evolved their sound, when for much of this LP they didn’t; Feeder disappointed.