The Felice Brothers - Life In The Dark

by Nathan Fidler Rating:6 Release Date:2016-06-24

Back in 2011 it felt like The Felice Brothers might be losing the plot. Their electronic, dancehall-bruising Celebration, Florida was, thankfully, just a bit of an experiment and 2014’s Favourite Waitress saw them back to their very best. Now, looking to follow up that sweet, playful and effort, they bring us Life in the Dark.

With a jittering accordion and tuneful violins, things seem to be business as usual on ‘Aerosol Ball’, a track resplendent with the usual playful lyrics “Minnesota is made of baking soda”. There are still those songs, bubbling with the awkward kind of Americana their known for, plus the heavy helping of a Dylan-esque drawl, noticeable mainly on title track ‘Life in the Dark’.

Quickly, however, you become aware that this album is missing some of the colour of the carnival which made their last album such a joy. Tracks like ‘Jack at the Asylum’ and ‘Diamond Bell’ feel too made-up, despite being underwritten with great imagery.

‘Plunder’ injects some energy into the middle of the bill, the Felice gang bellowing “plunder, plunder, blood and thunder, lightning split my brain asunder”, and ‘Dancing on the Wire’ is a fanciful jig, reeling off the list of former loves driven away or driven mad.

A much shorter album, it feels like they’ve not quite pulled all their ideas together as well this time around. ‘Sell The House’ begins well, a downbeat song, selling off possessions “sell the house, sell the car, take the kids to Jacksonville, give them a kiss for the father they’ll miss”, but it’s actually two songs hidden inside the eight minutes. The second half of which doesn’t seem to hinge on the first, and it’s slightly off-kilter which feels more accidental here than it normally is.

A scratch, screech and wheeze to match the usual sound for The Felice Brothers, but nothing which lives long in the memory or beats out any track from their previous effort.

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