2 out of 5
Produced by: Ant
The first Felt release was off the cuff; a joke of a conversation that turned into a recording session. Coming back to the moniker a second time – MCs Slug and Murs – show intent; going from a half hour’s EP’s worth of tracks to a full length 15 song set suggests an expansion on the quick-witted party repartee we previously experienced. Bringing along Slug’s Atmosphere cohort, Ant, on beats, the first few tracks give us a sense of how this return might play out: curbing Ant’s soulful tendencies and samples into playful funk, Slug and Murs get set things running with boast track Employees of the Year, and then some humorous relationship sniping with Your Mans and Them. After a sketch, a run of songs makes it clear that the duo are putting away their sharpest tools for Felt 2 and mostly just chasing skirts. That vibes with Ant’s bouncy approach, but the problem is that too much of this stuff runs the well dry for the team: the rhymes aren’t anything especially noteworthy, and the beats feel barer without the lyricism to hold them up. In other words, these are the kind of jams we can probably go anywhere to find, without anything to make them either feel necessarily unique to this troupe, or standout singles.
Partway through we get Marvin Gaye: a track that starts to peel away some of this persona and challenge it a bit, and it’s a good juxtaposition to what we’ve heard, also – coincidentally, or as a result of stronger content – feeling more enlivened musically, which helps the electronic bop of followup Life Vegas to work well enough, with Woman Tonight hewing closer to a more confessional style of the bro dude shtick. But one thing these tracks also do is make the more boner-fueled stuff feel almost restrained, like Slug and Murs are maybe holding back from just going full-on raunch. Do I want full-on raunch? No, it’s not really my thing, but perhaps that’s why a lot of this material feels neither here nor there, as it’s a few steps away from feeling truly unleashed, or subversive, or introspective. And when we get to The Biggest Lie, not only is this something of a partial retread of Scapegoat, it’s also wholly out of place on the album, like a bonus track that’s more in the form of backpack hip-hop that found its way onto a Felt jam session.
Felt 2 is spotted with moments, and starts off with good intentions, but wanders into an unimpressive string of tracks that can’t forge an identity, or exactly recapture the off-the-cuff vibe of the first collab.