Album review: "Here Before"
“The Boy With Perpetual Nervousness,” which opened the Feelies’ 1980 debut album, claimed to be about a kid “right next door.” But surely guitarist Glenn Mercer was singing about himself, a suburban nerd-rock savant who distilled adolescent jitters into musical propellant.
Three decades later, the New Jersey quintet’s jumpiness is no longer perpetual. “Here Before,” the long-inactive band’s first release since 1991, emphasizes gentle rhythms, lullaby melodies and strummed acoustic guitars. As the album’s title suggests, Mercer’s current themes are time and recurrence. In addition to the title tune, the set includes “Again Today,” “So Far” and “On and On.” These musings aren’t startling, but they suit the music, which imbues pretty folk-rock with modalities that suggest infinite flux and flow. While the group’s songs rarely top four minutes, their twin-guitarist, dual-percussionist vamps sound as if they could churn into tomorrow.
There are a few more aggressive numbers, notably the brisk “Time Is Right,” which melds galloping bass, clattering percussion, a spiraling guitar solo and Mercer’s channeling of Iggy Pop’s trademark “all right!” More often, the contemporary Feelies submerge their sharper timbres within easygoing jangle. Yet the occasional feedback spike or fidgety solo is enough to retain the music’s essential dynamism.
— Mark Jenkins, June 18, 2011