4 out of 5
Label: Rosewood Union
Produced by: Sir James Murphy
I like when there’s a nice, clear line from album to album for a band. While it lends itself to favoritism – i.e. buy album A not album B, and you own album B but rarely listen to it – it also gives me something of a sense of pride, hearing the evolution of something you enjoy. It seems to enhance the possible appreciation, the awareness of progress. And Feud Vs Yr Universe, while definitely from the band who would produce the amazing Language is Technology, is that chronologically earlier point in the line, with many of the pros of that subsequent release hearable but not nearly as honed. The jazziness gets played up over the rock this time, as well as a bit of a dance beat that may or may not be from producer James Murphy. The album also sounds more playful: tracks like ‘Ebonix’ and ‘Jdeufll‘ employ a bouncy bop for their core riffs instead of the aggressive jams found on the following release. The tone is similarly switched up. While several tracks start out heavy (notably opener ‘Sometimes..Few Dingo‘), the band seems to shift more into jam mode for the 4-5 minute runtimes, breaking the song down to its groovy elements, horn and wah included.
The listen very literally centers on the eight minute ‘Horen Is Geloven‘; initial spins had me zoning out on this Trans Am-esque Krauty jam, thus missing later album highlights like the building ‘Side of Gooch,’ but giving it a go with better headphones and a notch up on the volume exposed the song’s exploratory side, guitars buzzing on and off the beat.
The required second or third take is a shared attribute with Language; both albums employ a very inoffensive distortion and the focus is more on keeping the song going over impressing the listener with stop/start post-rock dynamics, so its easy to let the listen gambol by without paying it much mind. But given a few opportunities, your ear kindly recognizes the high percentage of catchy moments versus overall runtime, and soon enough the songs are as distinctive as any of your favorite records. True, the less direct structure of The Feud vs Yr Universe lends itself to seeming like a warm up for the razor-sharp followup album, but if you can transport yourself back to a point before that disc existed, the oddball jazzy, playful instrumental rock Feud employed on the album is still a rather unique sound, with a slew of sticks-in-yer-head worthwhile moments.