The Feeling

Twelve Stops and Home

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With its smart combination of pop/rock proficiency and brightly layered vocals, Twelve Stops and Home yielded some of England's most omnipresent tunes of 2006. Several years before this debut's release, the Feeling were little more than a ski lodge cover band, serenading Swiss snow boarders with Top 40 hits in exchange for lodging and chump change. Assimilating the tricks of the trade paid off, however, and Home's 12 tracks brim with delightfully appropriated moves: a pumping piano riff from Supertramp ("Fill My Little World"), swells of harmonies à la the Bangles ("Love It When You Call"), a zany chord progression straight out of the Beatles' druggiest days ("Helicopter"). The quintet knows its strengths and caters to them at every turn, letting frontman Dan Gillespie-Sells helm a handful of ballads (his delivery is impeccable, especially on the bittersweet British megahit "Sewn") and showcasing the Feeling's biggest asset: harmony vocals. They stack their voices like a bubblegum version of Queen, mirroring each other's sighs and crescendos, even halting the music altogether for a few measures of polyphonic a cappella. The latter move is especially effective on "Fill My Little World," where a Merseybeat-styled chorus is smartly contrasted by a sobering vocals-only outro. This brand of bold-faced classicist pop is a tricky thing to pull off -- especially in the wake of semi-jokesters the Darkness, who excelled in their craft while simultaneously making a mockery of it -- but the Feeling have the chic (and perhaps the cheek) to do so successfully.

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