Exhibit A

The Features

Universal, 2004


REVIEW BY: Sarah Curristan


I’ve never read an interview or seen them billed for festivals or on TV. It was an effort to find an official music video on YouTube. If it wasn’t for this tangible little disc nesting snugly in my CD player, I’d question whether a band as fantastic as The Features even existed.

Emerging at the same time as Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party, when The Strokes were at their peak, it seemed that their debut Exhibit A was to be released into a sort of indie paradise. And while the album gained moderate success in the UK, it failed to achieve noteworthy attention in the US. With their new album Some Kind Of Salvation my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 already digitally released and pleasing, I have to wonder: where is all the hype?

Sounding like a New-Age Talking Heads/Monkees hybrid on uppers, The Features are both unique and accessible. This album, their debut, is so unforced and unpolished that when you listen to it you get the welcome feeling that you’re hearing your friend’s garage band play. Not the dire one called Snot Fever who beg you shamelessly to go to their gigs, but the quite talented one who could possibly go somewhere.

The album opens with the title track, establishing the record’s eerie undertone, with songs like “Exorcising Demons” and “Leave It All Behind” following suit. While ironically at the same time cheerful and energetic, the record produces a ghostly melodic atmosphere dictated by Matt Pelham’s outlandish caterwaul vocals, raw guitars, and ever-present synth.

Exhibit A’s lyrics may on the surface seem conventional, but every so often have the power to surprise, cheeky quips like “I'm not for certain, I'm not for sure / But I think your pants are tighter than they were the day before / It's getting harder to ignore” edging their way in practically unnoticed. The Features manage to keep it lyrically sound and simple, never teetering into angst-ridden melodrama.

The upbeat “Blow It Out,” the endearing “The Idea Of Growing Old,” and “Someway Somehow” are just some of the highlights on Exhibit A, but in all honesty it’s hard to pick a clear favorite. The album’s songs are so well knit together that it’s hard to pick one without another; none of them ever fail to bring a smile to my face. It’s a solid disc and a stunning debut. How this band have managed to slink by so undetected remains a mystery.

Unfortunately, due to my goldfish-like memory retention, I misplaced my UK version of this album and had to order in another from the States. But with that said, Exhibit A is money well spent. Twice.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2008 Sarah Curristan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Universal, and is used for informational purposes only.