A new direction? Hardly: this is MORe of the same from the five-piece.
Tom Hocknell 2011
The Feeling follow 2008’s number one album Join With Us with another set seemingly designed to purposefully upset the NME. With Brighton-based production duo Freemasons behind several tracks, and with both Moloko’s Roísín Murphy and Sophie Ellis-Bextor contributing vocals, the small print implies a dance direction. But Together We Were Made is no Zooropa.
The Feeling emerged during a musical period when many a band competed for the vacuum left by the descending star of Oasis. But despite their debut, Twelve Stops and Home, going multi-platinum in 2006, their unashamed embrace of soft rock attracted as many detractors as fans, and the band garnered a ubiquity that belied their slightly forgettable songs.
And little has changed. The openers have ambition, but attract the usual criticisms. Saccharine lead single Set My World on Fire tries too hard, and is too MOR to stick. The surprisingly restrained appearance of Murphy on Dance for the Lights is a good call, but the cringe-worthy lyrics – "dance like you dance when you love someone" – rather less so. The brief reggae excursion of Another Soldier is another ill-advised move.
This initial enthusiasm seemingly exhausts the band, so they allow Leave Me Out Of It, the duet with Ellis-Bextor, to be dominated by its guest. It holds itself well, with restrained vocals, slide guitar and a beautifully sombre coda which lilts with genuine confidence. Searched Every Corner wears its Freemasons involvement most prominently; it glistens with euphoric promise, before shuffling off without quite fulfilling its promise.
A Hundred Sinners comes over as a less-irritating version of Take That’s Shine, and Mr Grin improves with each listen: its surprisingly dirty guitar solos add to some unexpected atmosphere. The undemanding Back Where I Came From trudges past, until the lyrical cliché "sticks and stones will break them bones" rouses the listener for all the wrong reasons; while Love and Care, as with too much here, is aimed firmly at the Heart (radio audience) but misses by a margin.
There is an overriding sense that The Feeling do not need to make these songs. Three albums in, they’re not lacking tunes, but identity still eludes them. They remain a band attracting derision, and this album does little to dismiss the negative criticism.