Human Drama


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It might have seemed like a good idea at the time. Highly tipped L.A. band with a definite goth bent and a hyper-theatrical lead singer gets signed to a major label and releases a heavily hyped debut album produced by Ian Broudie, known for his work with Echo & the Bunnymen and others. Perhaps RCA's goal was to search for the new Cure or something, but the end result wasn't promising -- indeed, it was almost disastrous. On the one hand, the elements that make Johnny Indovina and company's work so gripping are already present, notably his intense and often quite beautiful singing voice and the overall band's ear for atmospheric dramatics. On the other hand, nearly everything is almost too dramatic -- the best comparison here might in fact be the Mission, whose similarly best intentions were often torpedoed by the sheer over the top nature of the performances. When Indovina sings with a quieter, hushed delivery, he makes his sometimes unwieldy lyrics flow wonderfully, but when he fires up into a loud as hell if tuneful enough mode, it's really too much to handle or easily listen to with a straight face. Musically, meanwhile, Broudie seems to have encouraged them to be a studio-slick commercial metal band as much as a dark collective, and as a result Feel has dated terribly, often striking melodies and songs ultimately quashed under the burden of some late-'80s record company executive's idea of commercial success. The far more fluid and textured approach of the band's later years isn't here yet -- Feel is just too ham-handed to work as it should. There are some definite winners here, no question. The smart start track "Death of an Angel," a frenetic but actually pretty fun take on Neil Young's "Old Man," and the just-gets-away-with-it metadrama at Feel's core, "The Waiting Hour," are three of the best.

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