The Lovely Feathers – Hind Hind Legs

The Lovely Feathers
Hind Hind Legs

Oh! Let’s go outside / Put the car in drive / To the cornfield side / There, / We’ll take off our pants / Kiss the corn and dance / Kiss the corn and romance

Stein avant-gardism? Carroll foolery? No. The Lovely Feathers. These lyrics, taken from “The Last Appalachian Cornfield,” paint a fairly clear picture of the band’s presentation on its debut, Hind Hind Legs. Now, you may be asking, “Clear presentation?!” Yes. It’s quite clear. The Lovely Feathers are insane, and it’s best to just submit to their eccentricities now. If you think too hard about what you find on Hind Hind Legs, if you try to anticipate what the next move will be, you will hurt your tired, overtaxed little brain. Just go with the flow, and you’ll be whisked safely through the journey.

If we play a little game of metaphors (similes, whatever) and comparisons, we can discover some important information about The Lovely Feathers. Let’s imagine punk rock as a limbless torso. How it came in to existence we’ll leave to the great creation debate, but for the purpose of this example, we’ll assume that somehow, a limbless, headless torso came to be. The viscera within are obviously acts like the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Stranglers, etc. Eventually, through some good ol’ bizarre-o mutation, the torso grew some big, strong arms (hardcore punk and crust), an empty head (pop punk), a lint-filled belly button (psychobilly) and arguably a vagina (Riot grrrl?). Other rear-end appendages came in the form of legs, or post-punk, long legs that ended in many toes that were at quite a distance from the main body (toes like The Fall, Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division, etc.). Here’s where The Lovely Feathers come in. Just as the album title suggests, these guys are the freakish second set of legs, a post-post-punk if you will, genetics gone completely batty and circus side-show.

Fittingly, the first exposure to The Lovely Feathers is about as awkward as stumbling upon a punklepus with an extra set of legs (or a punklepus at all… what kind of horribly ineffectual figurative tool have I created?!). The songs on Hind Hind Legs are derivative of punk, but they don’t really sound anything like punk, and they don’t sound like much in the recent post-punk revival either. While very experimental, the band still has strong pop-chops and freshly sharpened hooks, and it seems as though there’s a little something for all indie aficionados throughout the course of its running time. And so the mutation continues.

Strewn about in the mess of songs are liberal spatterings of manic new-wave, surf-rock, Sparta-style arena-core, disco inferno burnouts, Sonic Youth guitar-blitzkrieg, spastic dual-vocal tradeoffs, and the coolest use of (what I think may be) vibraphone this side of Aloha. While bubbly, foolishly upbeat songs like “In the Valley” and “The Last Appalachian Cornfield” are a blast, the band is actually strongest in its slower, more thoughtful moments. Tracks like “Wrong Choice,” the excellent “Mildly Decorated,” and “Photocorners” contain what may be the tiniest traces of angst. Even in these more dejected moments, the band never seems to completely shake its trademark eccentric lightheartedness, perhaps a reminder that nothing should ever be taken too seriously. Still, a fool’s charm is short-lived. While these songs sound like they could be about heartbreak or rejection, they’re still riddled with the Feathers’ terribly ambiguous and sometimes downright nonsensical lyrics. “Mildly Decorated” sounds like a pissed-off Sonic Youth musically, but it contains confusing exclamations like “I like the chapped skin above your eyes!” and “I know my fingers are veiny and striking.” At times it’s great fun, but sometimes you find yourself scratching your head with such force that it distracts from the listening experience.

Hind Hind Legs is bizarre. Beautifully so. The Lovely Feathers walk a fine line between outrageous faux-avant pretension and silly, feel-good rock. On one hand, it’d be easy to imagine the musicians getting all huffy if one questioned their motives (especially considering they’re from Montreal. Zing!) However, it’s just as easy to imagine them getting offended when their “art” comes under fire as it is shirking away in terror as they laugh and smash a pie in your face. Hind Hind Legs is a disorienting experience, but it’s a grand one at that, and it’s certainly unique enough to deserve a few turns of the collective indie-head. The band is still very young, and any shortcomings found on Hind Hind Legs are doubtful any more than wrinkles that will be ironed out with time.

So come on, just give in. A song that seems to be about carnally knowing corn. Empowered shouts of “Krakow, Poland!” An anthemic tune about disconsolate mannequins entitled “Rod Stewart.” How can it not be awesome?