First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2004, Volume 11, #11
Written by John Metzger
On its full-length debut Exhibit A, The Features blasts its way through 12 tunes in less than 33 minutes, throttling each melodic intonation into submission with a thunderous new wave-meets-garage rock fury. Lead singer Matthew Pelham sounds like a cross between Robert Plant and The Cure’s Robert Smith, but the music largely lies somewhere between Elvis Costello and the Attractions’ This Year’s Model and XTC’s Drums and Wires. Still, Exhibit A never feels like a mere retread of either outing, though what makes the collection truly succeed is a combination of the sheer intensity of The Features’ exuberant delivery and the crafty pop hooks that seep into nearly every track. Pelham slathers the songs with screaming guitar riffs, and Parrish Yaw paints the edges with keyboards that invoke a ’60s dance party vibe, while the rhythm section of bass player Roger Dabbs and Rollum Haas provides a rumbling undercurrent to the material, propelling it along at breakneck speed. Although the lyrics aren’t particularly striking, they aren’t banal either. Between the ample emotion exuded by Pelham’s voice and the blustery buzzing within the accompaniments, no one is likely to care about the lack of poetry to the ensemble’s musings. Simply put, this is purebred rock ’n‘ roll in all its rampaging, electrothermal glory.
Exhibit A is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box