When the Feeling first appeared in 2006 with Twelve Stops and Home, they were pop/rock architects wielding the proper tools (harmony vocals, organs, and tight songcraft) to build a fine shrine to ELO and Supertramp. Two years later, Join with Us shows the five bandmates getting a bit overzealous with their abilities, mixing strong power pop songs with an oversized scoop of melodrama and the occasional pinch of musical absurdity. For starters, there's a show-stopping, room-emptying sax solo in the middle of "Won't Go Away," an embellishment that turns the song into something from a 1980s movie soundtrack (think Rob Lowe blowing his horn during St. Elmo's Fire, minus the dangly earring). Those ten seconds may be the album's worst offense, but Join with Us' 12 tracks (plus one bonus cut) sound more indebted to the Carpenters than the Beatles, and the surplus of theatrical soft pop (no matter how well-crafted) doesn't pack the same appeal as the energetic numbers that dominated the band's debut. Thankfully, several standout tracks still pepper this set list, and "I Thought It Was Over" nimbly opens the album with disco beats, twinkling piano arpeggios, harmonized guitar leads, and one of the band's best bridges to date. Later, the lively mood continues with the bouncy title track (featuring a call-and-answer chorus sung mostly in falsetto) and "Turn It Up," a Queen-sized romp that is unabashedly grandiose and, as a result, all the more appealing. All three are first-rate pop songs, but they can't quite balance out the smooth piano noodling and Broadway-worthy crooning that dominate the rest of Join with Us.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey