Felt

Ignite the Seven Cannons

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

By the time Felt were ready to record their fourth album, Ignite the Seven Cannons, they had enough momentum that they could convince the Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie to produce. All it took was Lawrence signing a contract stating he would vacate the premises when it came time to mix the record, and the band and producer were ready to work on a set of assured, melodically challenging songs. Lawrence's continued growth as a songwriter and singer is clear right away on a pair of brilliant pop songs that kick off the album. "My Darkest Light Will Shine" is a lovely, melancholy midtempo ballad that features new member Martin Duffy's swirling organ snaking around Maurice Deebank's trademark guitar arpeggios; "The Day the Rain Came Down" is a jangling, uptempo rocker that features background harmonies and Lawrence's best deadpan vocals. Both songs also show what Guthrie was bringing to the mix: lots and lots of reverb and other effects. Not quite enough to drown the songs, but more than many might deem necessary. The rest of the record doesn't let down much; Lawrence's lyrics are heartbreakingly honest, Duffy and Deebank form an unbeatable team, and the rhythm section of bassist Marco Thomas and drummer Gary Ainge keeps things light yet still firmly anchored. It's the biggest-sounding record Felt had done to date, and it contains their biggest single too. "Primitive Painters" is six minutes of post-punk heaven, the one song where the dreaminess of the Cocteau Twins and the spiky glory of Felt truly come together. Lawrence's plaintive pleas are balanced by Elizabeth Fraser's ecstatic wail; Duffy's organ chords swell like the ocean while Deebank drops in occasionally to scorch the speakers with lightning-fast lines. By the end of the song the whole band is locked in and reaching epic heights. As with The Strange Idols Pattern and Other Short Stories, instrumentals take a back seat to Lawrence's songs and the couple here are mostly forgettable, though "Southern State Tapestry" ends the record on a pleasantly jangly note. There's just no way that they could compete with songs as wrenching as "Black Ship in the Harbour" or as dramatic as "Caspian See." Despite the sonic murk Guthrie drowns the songs in, they are another strong and emotionally powerful batch. Lawrence is clearly on a creative roll here, and the expanded band is right there with him.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
2
blue highlight denotes track pick