In the lead up to 2020 Feeder were on something of a roll – 2017 saw the release of the bumper compilation The Best of Feeder, which reached number 10 on the UK Albums Chart, and two years later tenth studio album Tallulah peaked at number 4. Having been together for almost thirty years, Grant Nicholas and Taka Hirose must have thought they had seen it all. Then along came the Covid pandemic.
Prior to the first lockdown, the band had around ten songs ready to be mixed, before everything was suddenly put on hold with Nicholas admitting, “I didn’t feel like writing anymore because there was no real plan and no gigs.” Fortunately, after a few months the frontman once again picked up his guitar, “and songs poured out of me”. The pandemic also meant a new recording process, with Nicholas working on songs in his north London home studio before sending them up to Hirose to add the bass parts from his Yorkshire home, while touring drummers Geoff Holroyde and Karl Brazil applied their drum parts by making the most of a few studio days booked between lockdowns. The result was Torpedo, the triumphantly empowering eleventh studio album from the Welsh outfit, one of their heaviest, and most positive, yet.
The positivity is clear from the start with opener ‘The Healing’, which balances an addictive guitar riff with an uplifting chorus that features lines such as; “The world that we know may be bleeding, but we still have time”. The soaring title track then provides a heavier, faster tone but keeps the elevating mood with Nicholas proclaiming, “Today feels like everything will be alright.” Third track ‘When It All Breaks Down’ continues the hard rock feel with another huge riff through the chorus, before ‘Magpie’ offers shades of Alice in Chains. The darkly-riffed song offering a warning against the pitfalls of social media, summed up by the line “It only takes one word”.
After the hard rock feast of the opening four songs, ‘Hide and Seek’ provides a comforting touch with Nicholas encouraging “so find your inner peace” during the chorus of the relaxing ballad. Powerhouse riffs come back to the fore through ‘Decompress’, which again is reminiscent of early 90’s Grunge, before the anthemic, and unmistakably Feeder song, ‘Wall of Silence’. The song provides another uplifting chorus during which Nicholas states, “If you can say something positive – good!” and questions, “Why must we hurt? We’re just looking for a better way.”
One of the darker, more mysterious songs on the record comes courtesy of ‘Slow Strings’ which, despite the slower pace, still manages to exude positivity with Nicholas stating, “I think we’re gonna be alright.” As proceedings are drawing to a close, ‘Born To Love You’ provides another anthemic highlight, almost a certainty to feature prominently at live shows. ‘Submission’ brings the curtain down with acoustic guitar and synth strings in what Nicholas has described as a “broody, moody groove.” The song eases the album to a close, but the inspiring feel is not lost with Nicholas advising “Never lose your sense of hope.”
Grant Nicholas has said the purpose of Torpedo was to be an “uplifting record”, which the band have achieved in impressive style. Like many Feeder records, the more you listen, the more layers of depth you uncover, and this is a record that makes you want to listen again and again. With all the negativity that seems to be at the forefront of current news bulletins, Torpedo provides some much welcome relief.
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