The Felice Brothers - Undress - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Felice Brothers - Undress

by Nathan Fidler Rating:10 Release Date:2019-05-03
The Felice Brothers - Undress
The Felice Brothers - Undress

If you’ve had anyone in your ear recently, bemoaning the lack of musicians taking on the strange age of politics we’re currently dealing with, then give them a shake and hand them a record by The Felice Brothers. Undress picks up where their last album left off but gets more melodious and more in your face.

In the opening lines, Ian Felice asks America to undress, going on to put the same request to everyone from the uptight evangelicals, the Pentagon and Lady Liberty. It feels like he’s asking for some honesty and spirit from a tumultuous country, all with a hearty dose of finger-pointing at “conservatives in lobster bibs, industrialists and anarchists”. It’s a joyful song though, with a streak of hot sax and a galvanising finish. It’s a depressing message but one delivered with some enjoyment.

‘Special Announcement’ dares you not to sing along, swinging with jaunty keys. As you’re singing “I’m saving up my money, to be president”, you’ll realise that such a casual, childlike wonder has been applied to what is a fairly bleak and heavy fact: you’re unlikely to rise to power if you don’t already have the money behind you. It feels cheap to say this album is under the cloud of America’s most divisive president, so let’s say The Felice Brothers are instead taking witty and poignant shots at a world which needs its moral compass realigning.

Even with ‘Salvation Army Girl’ you’re drawn in by the toe-tapping pace and rambunctious chorus with horns and simple repetition. What’s actually happening though is an ode to a kind-hearted soul in a world where the gap between the haves and have nots feels wider than ever.

The times where the reality of the world is met with the appropriate, doleful workings are on tracks like ‘Poor Blind Birds’ and ‘Nail It On The First Try’. This is more familiar territory for anyone who has happened upon the band before, with scruffy acoustic strums, folky backing vocals and simple, yet poetic imagery.

‘Days Of The Years’ delivers yet more personal, charming but ultimately dour imagery. It’s like a life slips by in a stream of rhyming lines and it contains some of the most deeply affecting and personal lines you’re likely to hear this year, such as “putting ashes in a rushing stream”, “kissing my grandmother goodbye” and “standing in the water up to the knees”. You can almost hear Ian Felice’s shoulders drooping as he delivers knockout line after knockout line.

This is the perfect time for The Felice Brothers come to the fore, with their downtrodden, beaten but defiantly spirited songs which surely sum up the age we’re living in better than any other band out there. There are plenty of nods to locations of great importance in America - the Arlington Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Plymouth Rock, and Washington Square - but the message is universally understandable even through the smaller details.

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