The Chaingang of 1974's Felt makes for a chill, easy listen with a glitzy 80s feel.
Dominated by sugary ambient backgrounds, drum machines, and vocal smoothness, Felt strikes similar chords to big pop contemporaries. Felt sounds similar to bands like The 1975 and Porches, but with a slower roll.
It’s easy to listen to, transitions well, and has a couple of sweet moments that will make for a worthy summer listen for long car rides and general shenanigans.
The production of Felt is one of the highlights of the album.
Felt is full of smooth transitions and poppy hooks that have staying power. Most of the songs start out ambient and grow into bubbly choruses, with songs like “Bliss”, “Looking for Love”, and “Slow” nailing the feel. Thinking about it, Felt reminds me of the most recent Porches’ Pool, with a little bit less going on.
The piano, the electronic music component, the percussion and occasional guitar come together into a sound that feels like how an opal looks. When the beat works, the sound feels swirly and dreamy somewhere between pink and blue, with a certain shine that feels like a comfortable numb.
Sweet vocal moments at the end of “Slow”, a saxophone cameo in “I Still Wonder”, and a sincerely fun chorus in “Looking for Love” feed some strong moments through the easygoing album. Vocal harmonies come off strong in songs like “Slow” and “Temptation”, and definitely register as highlight moments on the album.
There are hooks in Felt, however, that feel like misses.
The pitfall about these hooks is that they take up a big chunk of the song. The sitar-sounding intro of “Wallflowers” didn’t sit right with the drum machine on the first listen and grew cornier as it repeated throughout the song.
Felt gets away with a good-sounding repetition for the most part, but when it misses, it misses big.
I’m not vibing with the lyrics of Felt.
Slow starts with blame right off the bat, and some casual pill popping not uncommon to pop-style lyrics. “I Still Wonder’s” lyrics feel straight up thirsty, recalling past sexual experiences and simply wanting it to happen again. “Human” comes off as a half-hearted apology spread thin between family members and exes.
However, there are some good lines and fun choruses. The lyrics of “Forget”, featuring The Naked and Famous frontwoman Alisa Xayalith had some poignant kick to them. But overall, the lyrics meander across sex, drugs, relationships, and life without the saving grace of emotional depth.
My favorite of what Felt has to give is when it’s at its most enthusiastic. Right from the get-go in “Bliss”, we’re exposed to a dynamic percussion line and strong vocals. As the song grows, it evolves into a chorus that kicks and trickles with genuine coolness. To me, it’s got the best energy of the album. I especially liked the guitar bit in the middle of the song, which I wished there was more of.
The Shakedown | Album Review: The Chaingang of 1974 – Felt
Felt is a pleasant easy-listen album with fun parts that won’t tire you out listening to. There is an 80s pop instrumentation in Felt that makes its mark with the exception of a few mismatched styles. The slow-rolling beats and smooth vocals feel cool to listen to. Felt makes for great music to roll through town to, but it’s lyrics leave me unimpressed. Overall, I think it’s a decent, middle-of-the-road summer album with better than average production.