You don’t really go into a Feeder album expecting much. In their nearly twenty-five years as a band, the Welsh trio have accumulated some indie staples under their belt (the successes of Buck Rogers and Just A Day speak for themselves), but as has been the case with most acts prevalent in the UK’s late-’90s rock scene, they’ve been waning lately. 2010’s surpsingly decent Renegades was at least somewhat of a return to form, but its 2012 follow-up Generation Freakshow was just another bland release with very few standout characteristics. Four years later with their ninth album All Bright Electric, Feeder still seem to be coasting along and tapping into the exact same market of blokes in the mid- to late-30s who still think shell suits are appropriate everyday-wear, and whose car has a copy of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? that never leaves the stereo. Yep, Feeder are still trying to keep Britpop alive in 2016, and their endeavours on All Bright Electric go about as well as you’d imagine.
Credit where it’s due first, though – for the first few tracks of All Bright Electric, Feeder at least sound somewhat enthused. Musically they’re not treading any new ground whatsoever, and their riffs are still very broadly sketched and severely lacking in artifice, but the likes of Universe Of Life and Geezer at least have some life to them, and the sweeping, mid-90s indie of Eskimo is easily the album’s best moment. Hell, even through the rest of the album a few rays of light do shine out, like in the widescreen clearness of The Impossible. Compared to some of the songs in this band’s back catalogue they’re hardly masterpieces, but they’re likeable enough and at least provide seldom moments of reprieve for when the album really nosedives.
And unfortunately, that happens more often than not. Granted, Feeder don’t exactly have the advent of youth on their side anymore, but that’s no excuse for an album as beige and anonymous as this. All Bright Electric tries to go for expansive subtlety, but fails to distinguish between that and blandness, especially on the wispy Oh Mary that’s devoid of all weight or power. That may be the album’s nadir, but it’s hardly the exhaustive case of this album’s dullness, especially when there are tracks like the closing snoozer Another Day On Earth, or the utterly nondescript Hundred Liars and Angels And Lullaby’s (yes, that’s actually how the title is formatted). Grant Nicholas doesn’t offer any source of improvement either, stifling his voice into a half-whisper, half-croak that’s stripped of the presence and personality that he usually does have.
It really is baffling how it’s all come to this so soon. Feeder have never been the most nuanced band, but they at least used to write anthems. Renegades had some genuinely great songs like Call Out or the title track, and as disappointing as Generation Freakshow was, it at least had its moments. All Bright Electric doesn’t even have that, and is instead just a beige, one-paced chore to get through. It feels like nothing more than a perfunctory album, shovelled out to plug a gap in a fallow release period and hopefully fill some kind of hole in fans looking for new material, though in the case of the latter that remains to be seen. There wasn’t a lot that made Feeder a good band to start with, and if All Bright Electric is anything to go by, even that’s dwindling at an alarming rate.
For fans of: Oasis, Stereophonics, Keane
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘All Bright Electric’ by Feeder is released on 7th October on Cooking Vinyl.