Review : Felix - Oh Holy Molar
PitchforkThe English trio Felix make music that is unsettlingly intimate, as if singer and songwriter Lucinda Chua were confiding in the listener as a close friend. "Confessional" music typically has an implied barrier between the singer and the audience-- at least some sense that there is mediation that keeps listeners aware that they are voyeurs-- but Chua's music, though clearly addressed to particular people, doesn't seem to draw that line. The result is music that is intense and obviously personal, but slightly disorienting: It's a bit like having a stranger tell you all their secrets while you try to keep track of the concrete details.
Oh Holy Molar, Felix's second album, recalls the starkness and exaggerated intimacy of records by Cat Power and Scout Niblett, but Chua is a far more reserved and poised individual. Whereas those singers can barely hold back their rawest emotion, Chua filters all that through pith and poetry. She delivers her most passive-aggressive lines with a stinging wit, but her funniest lines are self-deprecating, as when she mocks her own musical limitations in the opening track, "The Bells". ...full text
No RipcordPerhaps Felix’s minimalistic piano and FX-laden guitar arrangements might be expected to resemble another Kranky band, say, last year’s self-titled A Winged Victory for the Sullen album; however, Lucinda Chua is actually first and foremost a songwriter’s songwriter – your attention is primarily on her lyrics.
What makes Oh Holy Molar excellent is how every single line commands attention. Chua never tackles her subjects head-on; instead her songs collect scattered feelings, memories, and images, often returning to the titular “holy molar” (a lost tooth strung into a pendant). There are several quotable lines in every song, but the songs only make sense as a whole when the fragments distil into one bigger picture, as each lyric is vivid but structurally meandering. In short, she has a remarkable gift for capturing the elusive patterns of contemplation, in all of their illogical obliqueness....full text
Music OMHRecording in a massive 1940s cinema and subsequently discovering a dental laboratory under the live space after they’d finished recording is a great backstory. But it is the ability of Felix to exploit the idiosyncrasies of the recording space to their fullest that flavours this album.
Nowhere is this more evident that on Who Will Pity The Poor Fool. Full of echoing piano and occasional shimmering strings, it succeeds in its utilising the acoustics of the cinema to full effect with the band sounding almost lost in a vast expanse. The band themselves sound full and graceful, at odds with the sparse songs that populate the album elsewhere, but on this track they sound as if they’re giving praise in an empty cathedral. ...full text
Drowned in soundWith Kranky-released debut You Are The One I Pick, Felix cast into the lake eleven pebbles that would linger long after their ripples faded. Think Slint’s fractious post-rock masterpiece Spiderland: here was a record whose immense delicacy smothered its underlying menace with elegance and poignancy. A record offering not only escapism - seriously, ‘bewitching’ doesn’t come close - but whose brutal affections and nuances would be teased out and yearned for in quiet moments for months to come, like an estranged sibling stuffing esoteric messages into a bottle tossed through your bedroom window....full text
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