Review: The Features’ new album “Wilderness”

July 13, 2011

Murfreesboro/Nashville’s hometown heroes The Features are set to release their 3rd full length album Wilderness via Bug Music July 26th. I’ve been following this band since the early 2000’s, not long after I first moved to Murfreesboro, and known most of them since the mid 2000’s, so I’ll admit I’m a pretty biased person, but I am not a professional music critic. Knowing what they’ve been through, and after a late night drunken conversation with producer/engineer Brian Carter many months ago during the last stages of the album’s production, it’s very evident that this is the album they’ve always wanted to make.

This band never ceases to amaze me in their ability to stay fresh and create music that’s never dull or uninspired. There’s always a lot of hype and expectation around them, especially from their hometown scene, and somehow they always deliver. At this point the band just seems almost… dare I say it… infallible. Invincible at the very least. This album has anything a die hard Features fan could want, but I think it’ll also draw in even more new fans. Frontman Matt Pelham’s songwriting is as sharp as it ever was, leaving room for keyboardist Mark Bond to sprinkle in his textures where they need to be. Songs such as “Golden Comb” and “How It Starts” should be instant hits with those well-schooled in the Features back catalog. “Golden Comb” has a melodic structure and chord progression that may remind listeners of a few tracks from their debut Exhibit A. “How It Starts” features an instantly catchy vocal melody in the chorus, backed by a driving beat and handclaps which I hope will soon be learned by the home crowd at their live shows. I miss the days when crowd claps in “Darkroom” and “See You Through” were once staples of a local Features show. The second track “Kids” steps into slightly new-ish territory for the band, with drummer Rollum Haas pounding out a furious and frenetic shuffle rhythm between the toms and snare, while Pelham rips through a mean and distorted guitar riff. Perhaps it’s not really all that new, just a new-ish twist on a well-established signature Features style. The album has a healthy dose of slower tempos and earnest lyrics as well. “Fats Domino” contains one of the best lines Pelham has ever penned- “You can have everything… except my rock & roll… my love.” Though unfortunately this song also contains the only questionable moment on the album: Pelham saying a couple of lines in a soft talking voice, the last of which is “but I can’t let you walk out that door baby…” The album’s closer “Chapter III” is one of those songs for which The Features are often most beloved. Pelham croons out the chorus line “Yours To Keep” in an instantly lovable falsetto melody that simply melts the heart. Throughout the album Brian Carter’s production is spot-on; just the right amount of reverb here, just the right EQ there.

They’ve gone and done it again. They’ve made what will arguably be considered their best album yet. If 15 years of existence and a tumultuous run through the gauntlet of the major label record industry doesn’t destroy a band, then nothing will. I have faith that these guys will be making great music for years to come. I find that there are generally two types of great bands: ones that peak quickly and produce a small body of quality music over a relatively short amount of time, and ones that slowly evolve and keep churning out a steady stream of greatness for years and years. The Features have established themselves as the latter. Let’s hope they keep going.

MP3: The Features-Rambo

One Response to “Review: The Features’ new album “Wilderness””

  1. Edna Dabbs Says:

    Steve, I love the article you wrote about The Features .I’m Roger mom I’m so happy with how everyone loves and feels about them, I thank its wonderful . Your article just melts my heart I hope everyone read it . Thank you so must . And I thank Brian Carter did a great job with the album . See you both at the release part love Edna .

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