Feature – Banishing Ritual
There’ll come a point during Feature’s debut album where you’ll pause for breath and realise what an amazing time you’re having. Maybe it’ll be during the blitzkrieg garage-punk of opener Psalms, or amidst the harmony-laden fuzz-pop perfection of Prefeel. Perhaps it won’t even hit you in one sudden burst of realization; just a slow, extended release of endorphins across its ten thrilling tracks. Yeah, it’s pretty great.
The London-based band first formed as a duo comprising guitarist Liv Willars and drummer Jen Calleja (also of the Sauna Youth/Monotony parishes), before adding Slowcoaches bassist Heather Perkins in 2014. Perhaps those extra projects lend some context to the Feature story; the overriding musical theme is a certain sturm und drang – and a scuzzily melodic one at that – which might seem familiar to anyone with their ears pointed in the direction of the UK’s DIY indie-punk scene in 2017.
Of course, it’s not the sounds themselves but their impact on the listener that count. Calleja’s lyrics are smart and pointed throughout, particularly in Jealous' refracted depiction of bitter competition (‘Are you taller than me?’ asks the narrator, pathetically yet all too self-aware), while elsewhere there are sideswipes at self-appointed gatekeepers of culture delivered via nagging squalls of guitar that detonate on impact. Isolation, frustration, anger… they’re all here, tied up in a euphoric sense of release that feels an awful lot like hope.
The only real drawback here comes with the realization that Feature’s first album is also their last – the band split up last year, making Banishing Ritual a disappointingly posthumous release. So there’ll be no more tours, no more chances to hear some of these marvellously chunky chords or wicked bon mots in the flesh, and no chance of further material. Let's enjoy it for what it is, then: a perfectly-focussed snapshot of a great, short-lived band, soaring and burning comet-like before disappearing from view. Difficult to argue with a legacy like that.
Listen to: Psalms, Gatekeeper, Schedules Align
Buy Feature - Banishing Ritual on LP from Norman Records