Swirling, dizzying, shimmering: words used repeatedly when describing the music of Felt or their likeminded contemporaries. But few albums are as deserving of these descriptors as this. First, some background: after lead guitarist Maurice Deebank's acrimonious departure, Felt's future seemed slightly uncertain given Deebank's crucial role in their sound with his detailed, highly melodic playing. Interesting but comparatively insubstantial releases following Deebank's departure, like the all instrumental "Let the Snakes Crinkle Their Heads to Death," confounded this. Rather than replace Deebank with a similarly flowery and intricate lead guitarist guitarist, singer/guitarist/leader Lawrence Hayward essentially cast recent recruit Martin Duffy's deft Hammond organ playing in the lead light to fill the void.
"Forever Breathes" is an extremely unified, cohesive, concise pop vision, with nary a dud to be found. The arrangements vary little from song to song, yet each track stands out with its own particular mood, ranging from lush and haunting (the gorgeous "September Lady") to manic and surging ("Grey Streets"). Shimmering, clear, jewel-like guitars meld with rich, Hammond organ, all soaked in reverb, forming a dizzying, swirling sonic mesh. Yup, those words really are unavoidable here. The abundant melodies are elegant yet somewhat understated. Although there are shades of the 60s (specifically, Blonde on Blonde-era Dylan filtered through Pet Sounds' reverb chamber), the sound is still very much Felt's. Producer John A. Rivers gives them a brighter sound than on the darker, more brooding earlier efforts he produced. It's still drenched in atmosphere, but rather than make you feel like you're under water, it's more like sailing atop dense clusters of wind-strewn clouds.
This is Felt's strongest post-Deebank, Creation-era recording, and it best represents what Felt was about in the later half of their career. Felt's Cherry Red years tend to be more consistently rewarding, but this is one of *the* albums to shoot for first if you're new to the band.