It’s probably safe to say that, outside of a surprisingly dedicated and extensive circle of fans that have stuck around since the ‘90s, there are no real expectations for new Feeder music anymore. That’s not to sound disparaging to a band who’ve etched their legacy in British rock more than solidly, but more just a reflection on how they’ve been approaching new material in the same way as so many other acts like this in their later years. 2019’s Tallulah was actually alright, even if it couldn’t escape the feeling of music made by a legacy act to keep their existing flame flickering, even for just a bit longer. With Torpedo then, it’s actually a pleasant surprise to say that not only do Feeder sound more purposeful in the music they’re making than what would be reasonably expected from them, but that this is actually rather enjoyable, arguably more so than it should be. They’re definitely more galvanised than usual, in how the last couple of years of strife and division are woven into an album that does aim slightly higher than it needs to. That’s all extremely relative, of course, seeing as Feeder’s vision of ‘progressiveness’ doesn’t step too much further out of line than calls for unity and for the light to pierce through the dark clouds for harmony once again. Granted, it’s not as mawkish as that can make it sound, mostly because Grant Nicholas has a genuine, earnest passion behind the mic to gel more comfortably with his old-fashioned sensibilities. When you sidestep that cynicism, the results actually fall into place rather cleanly, in how openly anthemic When It All Breaks Down and Born To Love You are, or how The Healing is a notably strong opener in its strings-laden Britpop flourishes and depth of ideas that far surpass the norm from later-age Feeder.
Again, that’s all largely relative—they aren’t stepping outside of meat-and-potatoes alt-rock, nor do they really show any indication to do so—but if there was anything to be done to call this album ‘exciting’, Torpedo does try its hand at them. The title track plays around with a heavier, Foo Fighters style of guitar work that’s done with much more low-end panache on Magpie, and Hide And Seek and Submission sneak in the whirling layers of production in the background that successfully grips a darker, more unstable feel. It can be pretty impressive, honestly, and a far cry from the direct middle of the road that might otherwise be Feeder’s stomping ground. They never eschew an accessibility, but that’s ultimately for the best too; Feeder have always been and will always be a mainstream rock band, but those boundaries feel much more pliable on Torpedo. The production offers more density and the deeper musical foundations can be picked up on more easily. Even when Desperate Hour ends things on a bit of a limp note, it’s not taking attention away from how much good is elsewhere, more than a Feeder album has contained is comfortably over a decade. That’s not to oversell this, by any means; there’s a limit to where they’re willing to go to, and any measurement of ‘excitement’ welcomes the real A-listers of modern rock into the conversation, upon which Torpedo gets bodied without a second look. But for a band like Feeder, who could coast on residual momentum and past-their-prime good will, swinging a bit harder than necessary can count for more than it may seem.
For fans of: Foo Fighters, Manic Street Preachers, Ash
‘Torpedo’ by Feeder is released on 18th March on Big Teeth Music.
Words by Luke Nuttall