While the return of Pavement as an artifact of ’90s music is everyone’s current musical obsession, let’s not forget the Toadies. The Forth Worth, TX post-grunge band resurrected themselves in 2008 with No Deliverance. While people may continue their obsession with those Stockton, CA indie boys, Toadies is more than happy to chug along with more new material. This time around, though, the band presents Feeler, which, in some previous version, was originally scrapped by Interscope after their 1994 debut, Rubberneck. In just nine songs, the band takes back their sophomore album with plenty of well-established, heavily-ingrained tactics and a preview of a bright future to come.
The draw of the Toadies has always been that they’ve adopted that heavy, post-grunge noise, the kind that tends to drag along with lots of punch, but often without a lot of playfulness. But, then they give it a shot of life with a big, blistery metal tinge, bluesy-jam energy, and just enough absurdity and experimentation to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Feeler is definitively about the metal above all else. “Dead Boy” has that huge, angsty wall of Southern fried metal swagger, while “Waterfall” starts off like some mutant blues track before ripping up the musical landscape in a big block of sheer rock force.
But some of the more satisfying tracks on the album have more to do with innovation and perpetuating their slightly weirdo vibe than going balls out. “Suck Magic” is bright and rocking like a relic from the early ’90s that explodes violently into noise that is made infinitely more impacting with the wails of lead singer Vaden Todd Lewis. Album opener “Trust Game” is a morose and downtrodden little number accentuated by the down-strumming of an old, haggard acoustic guitar. It’s truly the little things, be it odd instrumentation or the layout of the songs, prior to their supernova of thick, dark sorrow that shines brightest and makes the insanity that much more tangible.
There may be bigger revival acts, but they probably can’t match to the varied ferocity the Toadies have presented on this LP. All that musical goodness, combined with the decreased number of tracks on the album and the time constraints placed on each song, make for an album that’s a right hook from days gone by. Whether this album is close to its original state, or if its changed completely thanks to the band’s studio “rediscovery,” Feeler was more than worth the wait.