Release Date: Feb 05, 13
As time progresses and conventions have become “tried and true,” it really is difficult to deviate from them. This is especially true when it comes to music. Striving for originality is tough work, but once you’ve come up with something great, you just can’t mess with it. So what happens when you apply theatrical elements to an album? Do you “razzle dazzle” and throw up the jazz hands? Probably not, but you can if you want to!
Feeding People’s sophomore album, Island Universe, presents the listener with a clean and polished collection of tunes produced and recorded by Jonny Bell of the Crystal Antlers and Hanni El Khatib. This album is the first of theirs released on Innovative Leisure Records, as they depart from their previous label, Burger Records.
The Californian five-piece presents itself as an indie band with a bit of a psychedelic edge. However, there is a lot of familiarity that comes to mind within the first play-through of Island Universe. The group tends to draw upon other artists’ styles and put their own little twist on it. Vocally, the singer meanders between a Karen O/Regina Spektor sound with an exception being in “The Cat Song.” Here she harkens to a Billie Holiday sound in this eerie funeral procession-like tune that is straight vocals accompanied by strings and acoustic guitar.
Much like a theatrical production, the album exemplifies various moods. Feeding People’s “Silent Violent” is a perfect example of this.
Imagine a stage and black velvet curtains, chilled with the presence of blue light. The lull of Louis Filliger’s undulating guitar cues a lone girl onto the stage standing before the curtains behind a mic stand. The delicate weavings of Jeremy Catz’ ever moving bass line with the softest heartbeat-like patterings of Wyatt Blair’s bass drum fall into background as Jones’ pipes utter out the beginnings of a slow lament. Just when things seem to come to a screeching halt, the tune gets punchier with attitude. Instead of a lament, we’ve got a jam! Jones full of sass and soul, and a voice that hearkens to the great Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs presents us with the rising action of the production. The jam deals with its internal struggle between the sweet and the spiciness of the vocalist before deciding on the latter and fading out into nothingness. Country-tune guitars break the silence as we are given the reprieve complete with tambourines. There’s just so much going on in this song, it could be argued that it is a show in and of itself.
Albums that start off as strongly as this demand a strong album throughout, and the group have strategically collected a series of tracks that are sure to keep the listener’s full-undivided attention. Skipping the obvious title track, “Island Universe,” (which by the way, has a pretty interesting music video) since we all know that track is an obvious hit, we will delve into the weird – “Uranium Sea” carries on in a doomy psychedelic fashion. Tomas Dola$’s keys take our eardrums back to the days of The Doors, as carnival fanfares are played on a loop until it trails out to the song’s end. Away from the familiar and into the exotic, “Desert Song” places you on the streets of crowded village square somewhere in the Eastern world, where the sun is hot and the air is filled with musky fragrance. Jones’ inner monologue during the break features straight spoken word enveloped in vocalizations and cymbal crashes.
As the curtain drops to close on the album’s performance, “Closer” chimes in with a slower tempo that brings resolution to the story — a farewell song to the listener if you will. When the full band finally comes into play, the singer’s singular vocals are doubled up and layered as if there is a choir singing along with her. The clean guitar riffs play along transitioning to solo parts of Jones. The song closes with sweet lullaby-like vocalizations that are joined by the twinkly chiming of bells, as the song fades away into nothingness. Roll the credits.