Same old same old from power trio
The last few minutes of ‘Echo Park’ find Grant Nicholas screaming “Revolution! Revolution!” over spasms of feverish feedback, beating his hair-gel-encased cranium against the walls of resistance Feeder so desperately want to raze. It’s angry, honest and noisily thrilling – but as a footnote to 11 tracks in which Feeder commit themselves to mediocrity with stalker-like tenacity, it’s too little too late. Despite a few valiantly feeble attempts to the contrary, ‘Echo Park’ offers neither revolution, nor revelation.
Feeder would love to move up a rung from bog-standard pop-metal, but they just don’t have a clue how to do it. The requisite elements are here – producer with cred (Gil Norton, helmsman for the Pixies and Foo Fighters), mastery of the quiet/loud dynamic with a nod toward the futuristic via cunning keyboard use – but there’s a definite shortage of ideas. The same components are rearranged in every song – so there’s a passage in ‘Tell All Your Friends’ that sounds exactly like ‘Buck Rogers’, and lyrical motifs re-emerge with such slow-witted obstinacy you wonder if Grant doesn’t suffer from severe short-term memory loss. In ‘…Friends’ he pleads, “Don’t come around pulling me down”. In ‘Satellite News’ he vows, “You will never keep me down”. In ‘Bug’, “You can’t hold me down”. In ‘Piece By Piece’, “It’s pulling me down”. Then, in a fit of inspiration during ‘Seven Days In The Sun’, “It’s pulling me underground”. It’s like dining at a smorgasbord offering a variety of dishes all made from potatoes. No matter what you do to that potato, it’s still a potato.
Heard in isolation, there isn’t a single bad song on the album. ‘Buck Rogers’ would be kind of exciting if you were able to ignore the lyrics, and token ballad ‘Piece By Piece’ is undeniably pleasant, in an ‘Ordinary World’ sort of way. Problem is, there isn’t a single great song, either. Feeder have perfected the mechanics needed to spark moshpit mayhem (although anyone who’s seen people trying to mosh to Elliott Smith knows that all that’s needed is moderate syncopation and the presence of guitars), and admittedly, they are a much more valid proposition live – but where they’ve mastered the form, they’ve neglected the substance, leaving a vacancy where their heart should be.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that although Feeder are ambitious, they simply aren’t ambitious [I]enough[/I]. They could try a little harder, experiment with some extremes (dispense with pop niceties and go whole-hog metal), or have the courage to say something smart, meaningful, even cruel. In ‘Turn’, Nicholas admits “I don’t want to be a hero/But I don’t want to be a zero”. It’s far worse being somewhere in-between.