Sound — 10
After the nonsensical freak folk of Sung Tong, it would be easy to think that the follow up to the album would follow similar suit, and, in many ways, it does. However, it follows merely in spirit rather than in sound. The acoustics of the last album are augmented by electric guitars, pianos, and other various instrumentation. The campfire feel of the last album is replaced by soup of sounds, all made out of tune in order to correspond with loops made from an out of tune piano. Now this doesn't mean dissonant; far from it, actually. Rather, the out of tune I refer to is the natural detuning of instruments caused by time. By tuning all the instruments on the album to this naturally detuned piano, it gives it a distinctive feel and sound. Also, unlike the last album, there is less of the meandering feeling of the last album. While Sung Tongs did have pressure points where the album exploded, it seemed like unintentional whimsy and abandon. On Feels, you could almost say that the album unfolds as naturally as the tunings used for the instruments. The vocals are intricate and overlapping; the instruments follow the same path. It's bizarre to hear a record that sounds so detailed, yet so free. The arrangements are twisting and unusual, but they flow so fluidly that song form is not a concern. In fact, I'm not sure if they even considered song forms at all while writing the album. The album is full of ideas, perhaps flooding to the point where sometimes the ideas spill out, but the ideas that are retained are either more direct and loud or more quiet and abstract than what the band has been capable of in the past. All in all, the sound of the record is thoroughly exciting.
Lyrics — 10
Lyrically, the group treads the same ground as all of their other releases. Fairly nonsensical, maybe having a meaning, maybe not. On Sung Tong, Avey Tare and Panda Bear both showed signs of maturing as songwriters (using the term mature loosely, of course), tackling more cohesive ideas lyrically (even if they didn't make total sense). This album, while not fully cohesive, is nearly a concept album where the words are concerned. Most of the songs deal with the most basic of all topics: love. Love songs can be fairly clichd, but clichs are not abound. Instead, it is sometimes difficult to decipher what Avey Tare or Panda Bear is really talking about. The melodies and harmonies and brilliant vocal performances will no doubt leave you feeling the emotions that are trying to be conveyed though.
Overall Impression — 10
Looking at the album cover, it is a tribute to the artist Henry Darger. If you consider the art work of Henry Darger, this album is definitely a spiritual cousin. Child-like and weird, sprawling and focused at the same time, the album speaks volumes about simple emotions viscerally and sweetly. Just listen to the shouting and pop melodicism in the song Grass. Both beautiful, infectious, and discordant at times. It's also the most simple song on the record, possibly the best. This isn't an album of songs, however, this is an album to experience as a whole. It is a balancing act between western pop music and the avant-garde. If I ever lost this record, I would assuredly purchase it again.