The Features – The Features

written by: June 11, 2013
Album-art-for-The-Features-by-The-Features Release Date: May 14, 2013


As The Features’ second, self-titled album fades in with opening track “Rotten,” a drum roll and bass line slowly promenade over airy strings, and lead singer Matt Pelham sings softly. That mellow mood is lifted when a heavy guitar and choppy electric piano forcefully move in.

The Features’ distinct approach is at its height during this ethereal song, which comes full circle as the music calms and the promenade moves back in, only to quickly fall away into “Tenderly.”

“Tenderly” has opposing sides, with sections that punch out of the tender vocals in clever opposition. The Features has been releasing albums since 1997, and the indie veterans know how to control their sound and feed Pelham’s lyrical ideas. “Tenderly” ends with the classic hold-the-last-chord-of-the-song strategy, and in its wake the simple drum beat of “This Disorder” begins.

That beat continues as Pelham steps in, asking, “Is this the way that I should feel?” An electric organ swells, queuing every instrument to rush in, and above it all hangs a simple country-blues lick paired with electronic chirps. It is a well executed and strikingly odd blend.

The Features’ second album has a cohesive flow—every unanticipated jump in sound bleeds seamlessly to the next. The 19 years of inspiration and development pay off in The Features’ mature sound.

Having lived through the decade, The Features’ seasoned sound glistens with a 1980s sheen at times, and comes complete with semi-cheesy synth tones, too. Pelham definitely takes a page from Morrissey on “In Your Arms,” and “With Every Beat” has glossy, twinkling synths that carry the song and wouldn’t be out of place on a Tears for Fears album.

The throwback vibe continues with “The New Romantic,” with slightly shouted vocals akin to David Byrne, dancey beats weaved with the snaps of a woodblock, and funky synth lines that would make any Talking Heads fan turn an ear.

Whether The Features is settling a storm with country-blues licks, or delving into pop-sensible indie rock, its unique influences are always peeking out of the music. The Features is memorable and well-written, but even in light of the album’s diversity, its catchy confines exclude The Features in conversation about pushing music in new directions.

The Features – The Features tracklist:

  1. “Rotten”
  2. “Tenderly”
  3. “This Disorder”
  4. “Won’t Be Long”
  5. “Fox on the Run”
  6. “With Every Beat”
  7. “Ain’t No Wonder”
  8. “The New Romantic”
  9. “In Your Arms”
  10. “Regarding PG”
  11. “Phase Too”