After 16 years of playing together, The Features have encountered enough struggles to give them a Ph.D. from the School of Hard Knocks, and to consistently churn out material that reflects their unyielding efforts as a band. Their new self-titled release is essentially a reflection on their passage through some of life’s different phases, resting on the transition of starting a family, settling down, and the inevitable growth and changes that result.
The album kicks off fittingly with “Rotten”, a subdued 6/8 intro that introduces those themes and slowly transforms into a hard-hitting rocker to pose the questions, “When did I lose my youth? Where’s everything I knew”? Just like the rest of the album, the song mutates through different tempos, forms and sounds, combining elements of ‘80s new wave, dance, and psychedelic rock in a way that few but The Features manage to achieve.
“This Disorder” addresses concerns over living in an era based on technology and modern conveniences, with lead singer Matt Pelham asserting the importance of doing things naturally — merging the perspective of a rock musician with that of an agitated parent. The melody is as catchy as what we’ve come to expect from The Features, as is the melody on “Regarding PG”, a mid-tempo tune contemplating the experience of watching a child grow up seemingly overnight, and the inability to do much about it.
But The Features have been doing their own growing up as well, thanks in part to their spouses/significant others and the love glue that has held everything together. Pelham sings about this on “Ain’t No Wonder”, the funkiest track on the album with buzzy organ zingers and gang vocals that channel Moloko, The Doors, and Dead or Alive. “The New Romantic” follows with a four-on-the-floor beat, mechanical gear-shifting noises, and heavy use of keyboards and a pitch-shifting wheel — all essential in securing this song a spot on someone’s workout playlist.
The Features don’t need any help climbing to the top however, whether it’s from a song, a record label, or the music industry; The Features proves they belong there.
Essential Tracks: “This Disorder”, “Ain’t No Wonder”, and “The New Romantic”