en: Renegades (Feeder album) [info]
It now seems bizarre that early in the last decade Feeder - with the success of their Echo Park and Comfort in Sound albums - were one of the biggest bands in the country. Once a perennial support act to the likes of Coldplay and Stereophonics, Grant Nicholas' band briefly stepped up to the big leagues. But having dropped off the radar after their sixth album, 2008's Silent Cry, Feeder needed something different to regain any momentum. So they played a tour of small venues as a new band called Renegades, road-testing these songs. Of course the band was quickly rumbled, but the Renegades name subsequently became the title of this new record.
If their mid-00s peak was their commercially successful mature period, 2005's Pushing the Senses reaching number two on the UK albums chart, Renegades marks a slight return to their noisy, Kerrang!-feted earlier days. Opener White Lines charges out to a tarmac-scraping guitar line and the thrust carries on into the Foo Fighters-style drive of Call Out, which features the chorus: "If you wanna hear this song / You just call out our name". Enthusiasm by coercion. Like it.
But beyond this fine opening pair things aren't too thrilling. Renegades sounds like a band wholly aware of their own reduced place in the world. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing if, say, that freedom had allowed them to experiment safe in the knowledge they won't alienate their solid fanbase. But as it is, Renegades reneges on its title - it feels like an uninventive continuum.
Songs are mainly kept around the three-minute mark, but rather than this acting as a shackle-reducer it just gives the band more excuses to produce the Britpop-punk of tracks like Barking Dogs and The End - which reminds, oddly, of Rocket From the Crypt's On a Rope. Then there's City in a Rut - a slightly glam stomp featuring the chorus "Riding on the bus / Riding on the bus". Hmm. To call it competent is to damn a seven-albums-old band with faint praise, but there are few other words for it. One for the hardcore.