Absolute Classic Masterpieces

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Absolute Classic Masterpieces documents the dark jangle pop of Felt between the years of 1979 and 1985; it's a best-of collection for a band that always deserved more attention. The tracks run in reverse chronological order, starting with "Primitive Painters," a song that charts the territory where the Cocteau Twins, the Fall, and the Smiths overlap, and ending with the very first demo single "Index." The order of the tracks means that you are listening to the band devolve into its influences, and the effect is enjoyable. "Primitive Painters" is a lost treat if ever one existed; along with the next three tracks, it was produced by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins. "Primitive Painters" also features Elizabeth Frazer of the Cocteau Twins on vocals. Guthrie is not the only famed producer whose work appears here; three John Leckie tracks are also included, from the Strange Idols Pattern & Other Short Stories album. While most of the slower songs appear toward the end of the album, making it a somewhat sleepy affair as it winds down, there are charms like "The World Is as Soft as Lace" to liven things up. "Penelope Tree" sounds a bit like Lou Reed fronting the Cure. There's great material to be found throughout the work of Felt, so this collection would work regardless of its running order. Newcomers looking for their first Felt album should start here, with the knowledge that there is quite a bit of dark atmosphere layered over the pop charms within. While these songs might not be masterpieces, as the album title would have you believe, there are many near-masterpieces of moody jangle pop just waiting to be rediscovered.

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