Review: Feathers – If All Here Now

Love them or hate them it’s hard to deny just how influential Depeche Mode have been on the world of electronic music lo these last few decades. So much so that rare is the new electronic band that isn’t at some point described by how they compare to some era of DM. We remember back in the mid-’80s when Book of Love were often compared to DM, more specifically as the “Female Depeche Mode” (assisted by opening for the Mode on a couple of tours, including one gig where the crowd was a little hostile and lead singer Susan Ottaviano tried to placate the crowd by noting they were “Depeche Mode’s girlfriends). We’ve been thinking of Book of Love and their place as the Female Depeche Mode because we can’t help but listen to the incredible debut album from Austin, Texas’ Feathers, and think, now *this* sounds like the Female Depeche Mode, specifically the sainted Violator-era Mode.

That’s not to oversimplify what this band has pulled off, because trite comparisons to other bands aside, If All Here Now is about as good a debut as we’ve heard in a yonk’s age. There’s such confidence here that it’s hard to believe this is the first recorded effort for the band. It perfectly hits that sweet spot of melodic but with enough edge to make it really kick through the wall. “Believe” and “Fire in the Night” are total kick ass stompers that also manage to highlight Anastasia Dimou’s terrific, unique voice. She has a lovely, early tone that’s neither conventionally pretty nor growly but has elements of both and its refreshing, especially when combined with the kind of songs that embody real electronic grit.

For balance these reviews will typically point out the weak point of an album, to show the quality range, be it a lacklustre album filler track or poor production in some dark recess of the record, but try as we might there’s neither filler nor weakness on this album. The quality is consistently high whether on radio-friendly-but-with-a-dark-edge singles like “Land of the Innocent” or a deeper album cut like the slinky “Leaves Start Trembling”. Song for song this is a fully-realized, comprehensively solid, and thoroughly enjoyable album.

As we suggested on Twitter, it’s early yet – just the half way point of the year – but this album is a strong contender for Electronic Album of the Year. It’s that good. It’s a remarkable effort that should be celebrated; even just knowing an album like this is possible to discover in 2013 only bodes well for the genre.

Watch: Land of the Innocent

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2 Responses to “Review: Feathers – If All Here Now”

  1. The Electricity Club also made the comparison with Depeche Mode and I just don’t see it. On pointing this out, they revised it to ‘post-apocalyptic Bangles’, which may be truer, but far less of a recommendation. The production is weak (compare this with Automation, Baby or even Alison Moyet’s new album) and the vocals, whilst not unpleasant, are hardly stirring.

    Sorry – this one’s a 4/10 for me ….

  2. I can definitely see the Depeche Mode connection, although they are not a simple clone. Personally, I think that’s a good thing. So far I’m loving this record.

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