Feeder : Swim

Britrockers' passable debut repackaged

Following the success of 'Echo Park', Feeder's label have reissued their 1996 debut 'Swim'. As a vote of confidence in the music, it's not exactly Missy Elliott describing the sunshine rock of 'Buck Rogers' as "dope" or Timbaland pleading with Grant Nicholas to lay down some beats for the next album. But, if we didn't already know, it's a sure sign that Feeder now sell. Otherwise there would seem little real justification in allowing 'Swim' to resurface. Originally released as a six-track mini-album, it now comes with bonus tracks and Grant Nicholas' hilarious Yanked-up accent.

There's an almost ill-at-ease sound to Feeder in places, probably because they were a new band from South Wales trying to sound like post-grunge MTV rock. They had some success, decamping to the USA for mammoth tours, but in Britain they were still not quite the Britrock nearly-men they'd become in the late-'90s. And nowhere near the plentiful success they're enjoying now.

'Swim' still exhibits Feeder's easy talent for quiet-loud-quiet-loud, but the musical climate was different back then - this was before Limp Bizkit and nu-metal, which meant that angry rock couldn't just sneer and raise a middle finger; instead you needed sincerity and a couple of ponderous, slow numbers.

This explains 'Swim', an unfailingly polite rock album constrained by a genre that was pretty much dead in the water, and Feeder sound trapped. Indeed, Nicholas manages to plead for freedom throughout the album: "I feel so free", he sings on 'Stereo World'; "We can be free" on 'WIT' and, on 'Descend', "I could be free". Not free enough to write an original lyric, though.

They've moved on, then, but songs like the electronically smeared 'Stereo World', motorised riffer 'WIT' and the Welsh borders cowboy rock 'Swim' still slam the needle on the rockometer. Stick to the first six tracks and it's a confidently confused, pounding debut. But stretched out with the other five B-sides, it lacks any real rock signature. Obligatory slowie 'Descend' sounds like Stone Temple Pilots and the overall feel is of a band who really respect Nine Inch Nails.

Nothing wrong with that; it's just an era of rock which has passed. Feeder are now free. But they coped pretty well when they had to pretend to be American.

Andre Paine
6 / 10

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