New release from psychedelic rockers

“The Features” earn 2.5 out of five stars.

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Parker Munson, Writer

Rock and roll comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it packs out amphitheaters, sometimes it echoes in crowded, smoke-filled bars and sometimes it seeps into the wood paneling of a damp basement. And yet, it’s rare to find an artist who’s capable of comfortably suiting any venue. The Features want that to change. The Tennessee natives have decided to head in a different direction with the release of their new, self-titled album, “The Features,” exploring a wide array of tones and volumes, and mixing it up on almost every track. The end result is an album that grips you and violates your expectations, though it struggles to find a cohesive identity.


The Features debuted with “The Beginning EP” in 2003 and generated enough hype to be signed by Universal, who helped the band release “Exhibit A” the following year. After a succession of touring dates with Kings of Leon, the band ran into some deal-breakers that ended up in a dissolved contract with the label, subsequently stunting any further releases. They went on to operate without a label for two years, releasing an EP and a full-length album before teaming up with Serpents & Snakes — the label run by members of Kings of Leon — in 2011, to release “Wilderness.”

This complicated past has had an impact on the band’s sound and their public appeal. On, frontman Matt Pelham said, “[We] walk this fine line. We’re not weird enough for a certain crowd and we’re a little too out there for the other crowd.” Confessing that they end up “somewhere between mainstream and hipster,” they’re nonetheless “pretty happy to be there.” This self-diagnosis rings true for their latest release as well.


“The Features” is an eclectic mix and match of various influences, sometimes pushing genre lines. The album opens with “Rotten,” which starts off sounding like a song by The National, interspersed with random bursts of heavy hitting drums and deep synths reminiscent of Band of Skulls. Most of the tracks are a fusion of southern rock and psychedelic, resulting in a strange hybrid of Talking Heads meets Cold War Kids. The album’s debut single, “This Disorder,” is probably the most consistent with what we’re used to hearing from the band, as well as one of the most notable songs on the album. The music video tells the story of a man afflicted with what’s, as the song says, “commonly known as an LCD,” which can apparently only be cured by breakdancing — making an obvious statement about the effects of technology on modern society.

For a band that’s never quite peaked the scene, “The Features” is definitely bound to grab people’s attention. Its variance of style may find its way into more crowds and has the potential once and for all to push them into the limelight. However, I have my doubts. The album’s inconsistency feels more jolting than anything, pulling you back and forth between a calm afternoon bike ride and a sweaty overpopulated dance floor. In a recent press release, Pelham mentioned their motivation for the album was to “do it differently,” which they’ve certainly accomplished, but they may have also failed to create something cohesive that fans can relate to.

“The Features” is a bold move and valiant effort. With a handful of standout tracks that will get you moving and/or make you contemplate, it’s by far the most creative and ingenious from the band. However, the lack of congruency makes the band appear to have an identity crisis, picking and choosing from a heap of various influences, throwing it at the wall and hoping it sticks. Perhaps it’s the kind of album that’s got to grow on you, and I’m still hoping that it will.

0 0 votes
Article Rating