Felt - Poem Of The River

by Jeff Penczak Rating:8 Release Date:2018-09-21
Felt - Poem Of The River
Felt - Poem Of The River

Following the brilliant song-based Forever Breathes The Lonely Word, Lawrence returned to the early days when Felt albums were combinations of short bursts of pop sunshine intermingled with lengthy dual serpentining guitar jams. Unfortunately, he continues to cheat his fans out of their fair share of music, delivering six tracks in less than half an hour and calling it an “album” (a la The Splendour of Fear), when it properly should be branded an EP or “mini-album” comparable to most of their “albums” which rarely top 30 minutes. Ah, commerce! But what we have is still worthy of your time, as the lengthy centerpieces of each side that account for over half the running time rank up there with “Splendour”’s glisteningly majestic epics ‘The Optimist and The Poet’ and ‘The Stagnant Pool’, making the album a close companion in quality and execution to the earlier classic.

The album begins in a strange, hushed mood as Lawrence recites his ‘Declaration’ over an ominously building guitar backing (from newest member, Marco Thomas). Once again, the punters are sent scrambling through their Felt back catalogue to suss out his “epitaph, the second line from ‘Black Ships In The Harbour’”. Before you ask, “Wait, what album is that on?”, it’s Ignite The Seven Cannons and the self-referential, self-deprecating line is “I was a moment that quickly passed”. Not exactly the pick me up most bands would open an album with! ‘Silver Plane’ feels like an outtake from previous album Forever Breathes The Lonely Word and it’s a sprightly, organ driven toe-tapper again featuring Thomas on guitar.

‘She Lives By The Castle, the Side 1 closer takes its rightful place in the Felt pantheon of epic instrumental jams prefaced by quaint, sentimental poetic lyrics and culminating in an effervescent jam intermingling Martin Duffy’s freeflowing organ pyrotechnics with Neil Scott’s (electric) and Tony Willé’s (acoustic) guitars. The flip’s stunning epic ‘Riding On The Equator’ nestles up comfortably alongside “Castle” for another perfectly dreamy waltz through Lawrence’s seemingly autobiographical, yet ultimately poetic minefield of a mind until we ultimately float away on a crescendo of more lengthy glistening dualing solos, these specifically denoted in the liners as “first long solo (Lawrence) and “second long solo (Neil [Scott]). The structure is similar to ‘The Stagnant Pool” (three minutes of verse followed by five minutes of guitar solos) and the result is another milestone in their incredible discography. [Scott, by the way, would ultimately join Lawrence in his next project, the frolicking glam tribute band, Denim.]

The reissue also includes the ‘Ballad of The Band’ c/w ‘I Didn’t Mean To Hurt You’ single, the plug side featuring more brilliant whining over spilt milk (i.e., Lawrence’s former guitar foil, Maurice Deebank’s departure: ‘Where you been? Haven’t seen you for weeks/You’ve been hanging out with all those Jesus freaks/And where were you, when I wanted to work?/ You were still In bed/You're a total jerk”) that doesn’t bother to hide his anger and disappointment by specifically namechecking earlier songs from 1984’s The Strange Idols Pattern and Other Short Stories (‘Dismantled King Is Off The Throne’, ‘Crystal Ball’). The flip is about all the apology Deebank’s gonna get: “I didn't think about your feeling/I just went ahead and done what I wanted/And I been bad…to you”. It’s all sung in Lawrence’s by now de rigueur sinister Lou Reed snarl.

Ultimately, not as satisfying as “Forever”, but still essential for the two epic centrepieces.

 

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