Following the success of 2006's The Singles Collection, Welsh rock trio Feeder have experienced the kind of post-Greatest Hits lull that many artists succumb to once the release of a retrospective plants ideas into the record public's consciousness that their best days are behind them. Released in 2008, Silent Cry was greeted with both a muted critical response and their lowest sales tally since 1997 debut Polythene, drummer Mark Richardson has since left to rejoin his former outfit Skunk Anansie, while the band was forced to leave The Echo Label due to various record company infrastructures. While many bands would fall apart with such disruptive behind-the-scenes shenanigans, Grant Nicholas and Taka Hirose, as we know from their tragic history, are made of sterner stuff. Indeed, free from the shackles of a major label, the duo, now joined by regular Robbie Williams sticksman Karl Brazil, appears more reinvigorated than ever on seventh studio album Renegades, named after the side project the two formed in order to test out its heavier explosive rock sound. Having abandoned any notions of becoming the next U2, the emotive stadium anthems of their three early- to mid-noughties commercial successes have been all but ignored in favor of 11 streamlined Kerrang-friendly bursts of Brit-rock that will undoubtedly please fans who argued they sold out with their "Devon/lemon" rhymes and Match of the Day montage soundtracks. But while the Queens of the Stone Age-esque storming opening number "White Lines" and the frenetically paced punk of "Call Out" provide a convincing return to their mid-'90s beginnings, the rest of the album rarely fails to build on its early promise, with only the ska-tinged title track, the glam leanings of "City in a Rut," and the post-grunge-influenced "Down by the River" offering any respite from its well-worn formula of crunching basslines, distorted vocals, and thrusting guitar riffs. Clocking it at just over half an hour, Renegades shouldn't really have had time to outstay its welcome, but by the time Nicholas plaintively asks "Is this the end of the road?" on the derivative "The End," you are slightly tempted to answer in the affirmative. That would be slightly unfair however, as Renegades does show glimpses of how effective they can be when Nicholas veers away from its repetitive meat-and-two-veg pub rock sound. Their late-'90s headbanging crowd will undoubtedly lap it up, but those who jumped on board with "Buck Rogers" and "Just the Way I'm Feeling" will more than likely abandon ship.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien