In making their wonderful fifth album, The Feeling boldly went where not many bands in the last 30 years have gone before: they decided to record the entire thing in just a few days, as a fully live band. The plan was to capture the spirit and musicianship that has made them such a successful live draw for the past decade (last summer alone, they were booked for more than 25 festivals across Europe).
The band abandoned the standard studio time-keeper of a click track (making editing together pieces of different takes nigh-on impossible). Instead, they gathered in their Dog House studio in Hackney along with some friends who’d agreed to supply the album’s richly soulful backing vocals, and recorded the songs one at a time, in full takes. The best takes are the ones you’ll hear on the self-produced album, and they make it abundantly clear what a talented bunch these five friends are.
It is a raw, passionate album which is why its title is ‘The Feeling’. This is more than any of their previous records, is what the band really sound like.
There’s also an unmistakable freedom in the lyrics written by Gillespie Sells, who has blossomed from the young songwriter of The Feeling’s early hits like Fill My Little World and Love It When You Call into something akin to the UK’s very own Rufus Wainwright.
The realities of single life are documented by Gillespie Sells with rare warmth, heart and humour. The epic Feel Something deals with finally accepting a break-up; the glorious first single Spiralling pinpoints the sinking feeling when you know a new relationship isn’t going to last; and the Hammond-drenched Repeat To Fade sees Gillespie Sells challenging himself not to get stuck in his ways.
Meanwhile, the giddy Young Things is a power-popping celebration of rediscovering going out and, as Gillespie Sells grins, “getting naughty”; and the deceptively soft Shadow Boxer is a pin-sharp exploration of one night stands and loveless sex (“we can do it, but it’s not the same… always dancing without music”). There’s even room for a gleaming chink of sunlight towards the album’s close, in Alien’s loved-up celebration of Gillespie Sells’ new long-term partner.
A decade into a career that’s yielded The Feeling several Top 10 hits, a million-selling album, an Ivor Novello award, and performances everywhere from Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage to the Queen’s back garden, the band’s fifth album has, understandably, left them re-energised.