[10 March 2010]
Very few bands can stay this true to their core sound and still actually sound good after three albums. But the warm, remarkably harmonized vocals and the all-around complementary arrangements of this UK outfit have proven effective once more. Feels, Feathers, Bog and Bees revisits many of the original Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love constructs, while they also try and add a new overall feel to their music.
The record sets off with “Document 19”, a truly epic opener that showcases the band’s go-to resources: layered vocals and simple arrangements that gradually build on top of each other for a powerful climax. Although it definitely works on its own, the track, much more akin to those grand closers we find at the end of most albums, marks an intense pace that isn’t exactly matched by the songs that follow.
The more mellow “Blackbird 1” is the first in a series of “Blackbirds”. The real standout of the three is “Blackbird 2”, which curiously comes well after “Blackbird 3”. “Blackbird 2” benefits from being the most stripped-down song on Feels, Feathers, Bog and Bees. It’s nothing more than naked vocals and simple instrumentation, yet the result is truly moving.
Kelly Dyson, Ellis Dyson, Chris Robinson, and Hugo Edwardes create music that is seldom heard coming from British bands, something close to progressive pop and upbeat folk that is very much their own. The quartet conjures up an unlikely mix of instruments and textures throughout the album, using guitars, banjos, and a wide range of wind instruments and percussion. All in all, it makes the trip much more interesting, especially on tracks like “Air” and “Clear the Throat” that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Low La Love’s strong suit continues to be the mysticism achieved by the vocal arrangements. Singer and lyricist Kelly Dyson leads the band through gems like “Where’re You Goin” and the very uplifting “Bored of the Stood Life”. The vocals stand out both melodically and harmonically, and the result is truly emotional tracks. “Flower in the Mind” is another keeper. Thanks to songs like this one, we realize that this album is best experienced through a good set of earphones. The production is worth taking a closer listen to, and there are an infinite number of details in the sound that reflect the musicians’ potential.
Feels, Feathers, Bog and Bees is a very coherent effort. The biggest downside is that somewhere past the middle of the album, it all starts sounding a little too familiar. The consequence? The beautiful details amidst the routine construction risk becoming background music on more than one occasion.
If Feels, Feathers, Bog and Bees were Low La Love’s first album, we would probably be buzzing about their sound. In context, Low La Love doesn’t reach, or clearly aspire to, new heights, or basically anything greater than what the band had already achieved the first two times around.