Before indie became somewhat homogenised, there was Felt.
Eccentric lead singer Lawrence didn’t allow journalists to use his loo, mumbled a lot and acquired something of an awkward reputation, often hiding behind his hat. He was often portrayed by the NME like an indie Howard Hughes, which seems a tad reductive.
Maurice Deebank, meanwhile, was and is one of the most incredible guitarists people have never heard of. His shimmering tones were influenced by classical and Spanish guitar, at a time when emulating the Velvet Underground was a more credible option.
Add to this their wilfully poetic and esoteric titles, such as Crumbling The Antiseptic Beauty, Forever Breathes the Lonely Word and Let The Snakes Crinkle Their Heads to Death, etc . and suffice to say , Felt were never likely to trouble the top 40.
But that’s why I love them- not because they were trying too hard to be obscure, but because they had integrity and made disarmingly beautiful, unique music. Lawrence’s vocals were great- half spoken and half sung, they seemed forever torn between derisive laughter and openly weeping.
I first heard them on a Creation cheap compilation album called Doing It For The Kids and was struck by both the elegance and attitude in their music. Too often they were dismissed as ‘jangly’, but that does a huge disservice to them, given that their music was always developing, from murky psychedelic gloom, to chamber pop up to the jazzy lounge forays in final studio album Train Above the City.
Me And A Monkey On The Moon featured Strawberry Switchblade’s Rose McDowell and Martin Duffy from Primal Scream and is probably their most accessible and successful, but I’m partial to pretty much all of it, truth be told.
Lawrence of course found more recognition through latter-day bands like the cheeky, glam satirists Denim and deliberately off- kilter Go- Kart Mozart, but for style and beauty, Felt will always be a timeless classic for me.