Album review: Feeder – Torpedo

Up, periscopes! Veteran rockers Feeder’s explosively heavy lockdown album is a submarine dream…

Album review: Feeder – Torpedo
Mark Sutherland

Feeder have now been together for almost 30 years. Torpedo is the 11th album of a career that has seen them sell over two million records, play all over the world and face genuine tragedy with the death of original drummer Jon Lee.

In short, they have been through it, done it all and – if you were around in the ’00s, when they were massive – almost certainly got you to buy the T-shirt. All of this means most people probably made up their mind about the noise Feeder make some time ago. But, just as veteran tennis player Rafael Nadal can still win Grand Slam tournaments, Torpedo shows Feeder are still more than capable of competing at the highest level.

Both also know a thing or two about glorious rackets. Because this is also Feeder’s heaviest record in quite a while, sonically harking back to the days before the band’s post-Britpop crossover. Just as in the city, where you’re never more than six feet away from a rat, so on Torpedo a monstrous riff is always lurking somewhere behind the song’s skirting boards.

That’s evident right from the start, with epic album opener The Healing beginning like a string-laden U2 song then mutating into neo-Metallica mode halfway through. Meanwhile, the title-track – fuelled by the optimistic assertion that, 'Today it feels like everything will be alright… Somehow we’ve connected, unified' – is perhaps their most boisterous guitar anthem since the likes of Buck Rogers and Just A Day ruled the charts at the turn of the century. And Decompress is a slice of pulsating, in-your-face grunge that even early Nirvana would have nodded in approval at.

It also turns out that Grant Nicholas and Taka Hirose – people who know plenty about adversity – understand how to try and make sense of the bewildering last couple of years. Torpedo is lyrically inspired by the pandemic, as so many recent records have been, with the band scrapping the album they’d been working on pre-COVID in favour of this rockier set of lockdown songs. But Grant’s knack for turning the universal into the personal – and his habit for composing the anthems no-one else is prepared to go the extra mile for – means this is one piece of post-pandemic art that won’t stop making sense the moment you run out of free lateral flow tests.

Consequently, even the quieter moments – the neo-psychedelic whimsy of Hide And Seek, the electronica-washed wistfulness of Slow Strings – maintain a brooding intensity, while album closer Submission attempts to convince us the bad times are behind us ('Never look back / Never lose all sense of hope').

Despite that statement of intent, Torpedo is not exactly, um, rocket science. Feeder haven’t spent 30 years in the lab to suddenly abandon a winning formula, and this album ultimately finds comfort in their trademark sound: big riffs, bigger emotions and, of course, absolutely bloody enormous tunes.

By rights, that should have made Feeder international treasures by now. Instead, they may be one of those veteran bands who will only be truly appreciated once they’ve split up. Either way, Torpedo shows that, sometimes, there’s no substitute for experience.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Stereophonics

Torpedo is out now via Big Teeth

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