Time for a Witness

The Feelies, over their 10-year, four-album career, have been perhaps rock & roll’s ultimate critic’s band — adoringly reviewed but thoroughly ignored saleswise. Why? Easy: The Feelies, with their very formalistic use of taut, wavy rhythms and hyper-strummed guitars, were an important link in the striking reemergence of bona fide American rock in the 1980s, the missing link, if you will, between the cool, detached Velvet Underground and the hot, alternative rock of R.E.M. Since their acclaimed debut, Crazy Rhythms, in 1980, the group has gotten friendlier and more accessible, with Only Life in 1988 and with their new album, Time for a Witness. The Feelies now sound like a quite normal, if somewhat moody, rock band with, yes, a thing for taut, wavy rhythms and hyper-strummed guitars. They don’t really write songs about anything, and the band’s lyrics — from songwriters Bill Million and Glenn Mercer — are seldom more than rudimentary. But you can savor the album nonetheless for its textures, particularly the soft ones on songs like ”Invitation”; for little fillips, like the way the album begins abruptly, with the first chords already in progress; and the little bits of rock & roll heaven on songs like ”Doin’ It Again.” Nothing new, nothing special, just good old wholesome vibrating American indie rock. If you like minimalist, mildly self-absorbed rock groups, you’ll like this.

Time for a Witness
  • Music