(Big Teeth Music)
Ever since rock 'n' roll began, British bands have been soaking up influences from across the Atlantic then pouring them out in a chart-friendly fashion. Feeder formed in Wales during the gloomy, grunge-dominated early 1990s and though the frontman Grant Nicholas considers himself "a pretty dark songwriter", the band prospered by lightening the tone. While remaining resolutely unfashionable, they have sold five million records. This eighth album continues their quest to bring elements of edgy rock to everyday people, as alongside the famously soaring choruses there are some abrasive sounds and moments of confessional angst from the singer. The record begins with an entertaining trio of upbeat anthems all featuring protagonists yearning for better lots, with Nicholas vowing to escape "all the way to the USA" on Idaho, to restart life and a lost romance. Idaho and the similarly lovelorn Tiny Minds are both replete with grinding, grunge-era guitars, the closest they get to a ballad. Sunrise channels a funkier transatlantic inspiration, rolling in on a Red Hot Chili Peppers groove before reverting to a regulation Feeder chorus, while the buzzsaw riffs of the title track hark back to the Smashing Pumpkins. That's arguably the album's weakest moment, however, an awkward attempt at cutting-edge social commentary that actually sounds more like Billy Joel's comical We Didn't Start the Fire. It's a rare departure from the familiar blueprint. Even Hey Johnny – a heartfelt lament almost certainly about the original drummer Jon Lee, who committed suicide in 2002 – barrels along at an exhilarating pace. Why change a winning formula?