As the press release reminds us, The Feelies have been going for quite some time, and what’s more they’re by no means spent, and if anything, their 17-year break has revitalised them: even while looking back, they’re still looking forwards. ‘In the midst of multiple events celebrating their 40th Anniversary as a band, the New Jersey-based avant-pop pioneers found time to record In Between their first new studio album in over 6 years. The album was produced by the group’s guitarists, Glenn Mercer and Bill Million with most of the recording done at Glenn’s home studio in Haledon, NJ.’
The title track brings on a summery vibe, the rhythmic acoustic strum and laid-back vocal harmonies shimmer with a 60s folk-pop feel, and the sentiment of ‘Turn Back Time’ seems to perfectly encapsulate the spirit and sound of In Between. The shuffling drums and strolling bassline are the perfect accompaniment to the wistful jangle.
‘Flag Days’ brings a more rockin’ sound, the guitars up and driving a blues-based groove, and Mercer’s lower-range vocal pitch features a hint of grit which lends itself to the track nicely. ‘Been Replaced’ has hints of Blur’s ‘Coffee and TV’ about it, but builds – quite unexpectedly – into a nagging, grungy groove, and while much of the album is low key and understated, there are moments where they do whip up a reasonable racket. These contrasts make all the difference.
Is it an album where you listen intently for the lyrics? No. For the most part, the vocals are fairly mumbly, but that’s actually a large part of the album’s charm and the immediacy: In Between sounds like an album of songs being played for friends in a low-key setting – which in many respects, it is.
Glenn Mercer explains the process which produced the end product: “We did a lot of it at my house in my home studio with extra equipment. It’s the same room where we rehearsed. We’ve been here since we reformed and a little bit prior to taking the hiatus in the 90s. So it’s a room we’re really familiar with and feel comfortable in. We refer to it as ‘off the clock’ when you're not paying an hourly rate, so in that sense it was a lot more relaxed. I think it sounds a lot more relaxed and laid back.”
Laid back and relaxed emanate from every corner of the recordings, and In Between sounds like a band at ease with themselves. It’s clear they’re not trying to recapture the spirit or sound of their early works, or, indeed, anything else. In Between is an album that feels organic, and flows, with a natural warmth and displays an effortless kind of songwriting which sounds remarkably fresh for a band who have been going for a full four decades.
The Feelies Online